Science - Discovering Life Below the Oceans Surface
Discovering Life Below the Oceans Surface

About 250 miles east of Tasmania, scientists have unearthed a massive chain of prehistoric underwater volcanoes that turns out to be a massive whale superhighway!

A sonar map points towards the vast seamounts that begin about 5,000 meters below the ocean’s surface

Owing special credits to “Looney Tune,” this island of Tasmania is notorious for its titular devils. However, the neighboring Tasman Sea is needless to say full of oddball miscellany. For instance, the recent discovery testified by the Australian research vessel “The Investigator.” A curious team of maritime scientists have unearthed a primordial highway of gigantic volcanoes and these seamounts or submerged mountains as you may call them are teeming with whales suggested a news release from The National Science Agency of Australia.

A seabird ecologist at the University of Tasmania and a crewmember aboard the Investigator during its recent voyage said “While we were over the chain of seamounts, the ship was visited by large numbers of humpback and long-finned pilot whales. We estimated that at least 28 individual humpback whales visited us on one day, followed by a pod of 60 to 80 long-finned pilot whales the next.”

The crew of the Investigator claimed to have spotted approximately 30 humpback whales near their vessel just in one day. Speculations are being that these gigantic seamounts are being used as underwater pointers to navigate their way to and from their proliferation bases.

Woehler and his crew of colleagues had lately undertaken a 25-day tour of the Tasman Sea to explore ocean productivity—a process demonstrated by microscopic phytoplankton that turns sun rays into the carbon that withstands the entire oceanic ecosystems. Other crewmembers searched for indications of phytoplankton activities and recorded the previous uncharted masses of the oceanic floor with the help of a special sonar as Woehler assessed the local marine life.

As the Investigator cruised about 400 kilometers east of Tasmania, the crew noticed a hike in phytoplankton activity. The sonar scans further revealed that the phytoplankton activity accorded with the appearance of a massive chain of volcanic mountains immersed 1000s of feet below the oceanic surface.

The scans also revealed that these underwater, hidden volcanic mountains rose up from the ocean floor starting about 5,000 meters below the water surface. The mountains differed in inclination and size; some were vast and with low plateaus while the others were crude peaks stabbing up to 3000 meters above the ocean floor.

Woehler further added that “Today, that variety of terrain likely provides habitats for a hugely diverse population of marine life. The jutting mounts could serve as underwater “signposts” on a migratory highway for regional whales, helping to guide them from their winter breeding grounds to their summer feeding grounds.” Apart from the abundant phytoplankton and whale findings, the vessel crew also reportedly saw a considerable variety of seabirds, inclusive of 4 species of petrels and albatrosses.

Tara Martin, a researcher with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the Australian science agency that owns and operates the Investigator stated, “This is a very diverse landscape and will undoubtedly be a biological hotspot that supports a dazzling array of marine life.”

To find out whether these recently discovered submerged mountains are indeed a “highway of marine life,” as Woehler claimed, researchers will have to further deepen the study. Two new excursions to the area are set to go on board in November and December. The team aims to bring back high-resolution video of the sea life brimming on and around the submerged mountains.