IUCN - Mysteries of deep-water life in the Indian Ocean to be revealed

Mysteries of deep-water life in the Indian Ocean to be revealed

12 November 2009 | News story

A new project led by IUCN will unveil the mysteries of southern Indian Ocean seamounts and help improve conservation and management of resources.

Two research expeditions will survey seamounts, underwater mountains of volcanic origin that are hotspots of marine biodiversity. The aim is to determine priority areas for the establishment of future marine Protected Areas, and improve the management and conservation of the fragile species and ecosystems on oceans.

Onboard the Norwegian research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen, a team of the world’s leading experts from the UK, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa, Madagascar, Norway and France will study the ecosystems around the seamounts.

“It is critical that we get more information on the impact of climate change on these deep-water species, in order to help set up protective measures. Deep-sea species are particularly vulnerable to climate change” Dr Alex David Rogers, Principal Scientist and Marine Biologist at the Zoological Society of London.

Starting its voyage on November 11, 2009 at Reunion island, the vessel will sail southwest to the Indian Ocean Ridge to study five seamounts located between 32° 00’ S and 41° 00’ S, and end its journey forty days later, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The second cruise, tentatively scheduled with the UK vessel RSS James Cook, will follow the same route, at the end of 2011.

“The momentum for improved regional and international cooperation in managing the high seas resources is really building, and it is extraordinary to be able to stimulate this process with new data” says Sarah Gotheil, from IUCN Global Marine Programme.

For more information contact:

Sarah Gotheil, Programme Officer, Global Marine Programme, IUCN (aboard the ship)
Sarah.gotheil@iucn.org

Pia Drzewinski, Media Relations Officer, Global Communications, IUCN
Pia.drzewinski@iucn.org

Project’s website: www.iucn.org/marine/seamount

Follow the expedition progress on the seamounts blog: http://seamounts2009.blogspot.com/