Deep-sea coral garden off the Cape Verde islands. Photo: ROV-Team/GEOMAR

Image of the month: December 2018

Coral garden in 3000 meters water depth

The Cape Verde Islands as a location for marine and atmospheric research were the subject of the GEOMAR calendar 2018. With the final image we dive deep into the ocean around Cape Verde. The photo taken by the remotely operated vehicle ROV KIEL 6000 shows a deep sea coral garden at about 3000 meters water depth with black corals (Anthipatharia) and octocoral colonies (isidids). A Hexactinellid sponge can be seen in the foreground. The corals carry goose-neck barnacles (Lepatids), mobile crionoids (Kommatulidae) and brittlestars (Ophiuroid). Between the living colonies a large number of dark coated fossil skeletons of these octocorals litter the seafloor. The calcitic skeletons of octocorals have longevities from several decades to centuries and bear potential as archives for paleoceanography.

The underground is formed by volcanic rock. The Cape Verde Islands are located above a volcanic hotspot, which is responsible for the formation of the islands and numerous underwater mountains in the region.

Many thanks to Jacek Raddatz from the Goethe University Frankfurt and Matthias Lopez Correa from the Friedrich Alexander University Nürnberg-Erlangen for identifying the organisms on the photo. Both took part in the expedition M80/3 with the research vessel METEOR, during which this photo was taken.

Further information:

 Expedition M80/3

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The research vessel METEOR. Photo: Hermann Bange/GEOMAR

The research vessel METEOR. Photo: Hermann Bange/GEOMAR