A fresh discovery of the lost world of underwater volcanoes is getting teamed up with diverse marine life on both above and below the waves. Scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization vessel Investigator, while mapping the seafloor, have unraveled a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts. They are located in deep water around 400 km east of Tasmania. Though these aquatic mountains reach a height of close to 3000m from the surrounding seafloor, they are still well below the ocean. The highest peaks start off at a depth of close to 2000m. Dr. Tara Martin of the mapping team said through a statement that their multibeam mapping has made a revelation in vibrant detail for the first time. The revelation is of a chain of volcanic seamounts rising up from an abyssal plain surface around 5000m deep.
The seamounts vary in their shape and size. Some contain sharp peaks while others have wide flat plateaus that remain dotted with small conical hills. For the mapping team, having detailed maps of those areas are extremely important. They assist them to manage better and protect the unique marine environments, thereby also providing a stepping stone for further research. The explorations of the ship have shown an increasing amount of phytoplankton activity in the area. The researchers were also treated to sightings of life above water on a frequent basis. They had made an estimate of at least 28 individual humpback whales visiting them in one day. They also saw quite a large number of seabirds in the region including four species of albatross and four species of petrel.
Research indicates that animals like whales might well use these underwater features as critical stopping points to charge up on their journey and thus serve as national help. Dr. Wohler said that these seamounts might act as an important signpost on an underwater migratory highway for the humpback whale, which they had seen moving from their winter breeding grounds to summer breeding grounds. Luckily for them and their research, they parked right on top of the highway of marine life.