The Icelandic Marine Research Institute (Hafró) found varied species of rare corals and marine animals during its recent underwater photographic expedition. Some of these organisms have seldom or never been photographed off Iceland before.
One of the coral species photographed. Copyright: Hafró.
Among these were pictures of a strange spiral-shaped animal which sticks out of a layer of sediment. It cannot be stated with any certainty yet what species the animal belongs to, but it is likely a coral that has never been registered in Iceland before, as stated on hafro.is.
Among species photographed during the mission listed by Hafró on its website are halibut, monkfish, redfish, sea pens, sea lilies, starfish, tunicates, black corals, cockscomb cup corals, zigzag corals and Lophelia pertusa, a cold-water coral which is the only species in the genus Lophelia.
The biosphere around stretches of coral is characterized by diversity and fish use the corals as shelter. They are ideal hiding places and the waters around corals are rich in nutrients.
Some areas in Icelandic waters that are known for extensive stretches of corals have been placed under preservation as they are very sensitive, for example to damage and disturbance caused by fishing gear.
Rubbish was also seen in some locations, including corrugated cardboard and a plastic bag at a depth of 500 meters.
The expedition was part of a project on mapping the ocean floor around Iceland and defining what animal and plant species can be found there.
The expedition was carried out on the research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson June 21-26 in Háfadjúp and Reynisdjúp. Pictures were taken on the ocean floor in 15 locations at a depth of 110-730 meters.
Steinunn Hilma Ólafsdóttir led the expedition and Ingvi Friðriksson was captain.
During the expedition a massive underwater mountain that might be a volcano was discovered off West Iceland.
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