Chinese scientists aboard research vessel Kexue (Science) photographed several “seabed gardens” with colorful corals and sponges in a seamount of the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean.
The coral gardens were discovered by a remotely operated vehicle in the east ridge of the underwater mountain in the south of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth.
In the real time videos that the remotely operated vehicle transmitted, scientists first observed a seabed garden with a lot of corals, sponges and brittle stars at a depth of 880 meters and then found more in the following exploration.
The seamount under investigation is located in a sea area that is low in plant nutrients,” said Xu Kuidong, chief scientist aboard the vessel and a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “It is very rare to see such multicolored coral forests there.”
The area of the western Pacific Ocean within 20 degrees of latitude is far from land, and the seawater in the top and bottom depths rarely circulates as the temperature is steady the whole year, so nutrients on the seafloor can’t be brought to the top.
However, the ocean currents toward the east ridge of the seamount are complicated and fast, so they carry a lot of organic matter to feed the corals, Xu said.
The east ridge of the seamount has a steady geological environment and its bed is made up of large rocks, which provides a stable base for the corals and sponges attached to them, he added.