Report Open Access
Objectives: to explore deep-sea areas of the Azores EEZ to better understand the distribution patterns of large VME species and commercial fishes. Specifically, the objectives of the cruise were to (i) continue the characterization of benthic communities inhabiting the slopes of Terceira and neighbouring deep seamounts, (ii) identify new areas that may fit the FAO definition of what constitutes a Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem; and (iii) to contribute with additional data to address patterns and drivers of the distribution of deep-sea benthic biodiversity in the Azores region. It will also provide valuable information in the context of Good Environmental Status (GES), and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and provide new insights on how to sustainably manage deep-sea ecosystems.
Vessel: R/V Pelagia
Chief scientist: Fleur Visser (NIOZ)
Scientific team: Carlos Dominguez-Carrió (IMAR-UAç), Sérgio Gomes (IMAR-UAç)
Cruise summary: Three new hopper dives were performed during the cruise. One dive was performed on the southern slopes of Terceira island, covering a depth range between 150 and 750 m. The remaining two dives were performed in a deep seamount located southwest of Terceira Island, in two locations at 1000 and 1500 m depth. Overall, we collected 7 h of new video footage, covering 8.75 km of the seabed. More than 6 km corresponded to the deep seamount, from which no information was available until now.