Deep-sea vertical walls have rarely been surveyed due to technical challenges they pose to the operation of surface vessels and remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Manned submersibles are not connected to a surface support ship via an umbilical cable, and thus allow making direct observations in steep and highly structured grounds in deep-water environments whilst providing high maneuverability for surveys.
The LULA1000 has carried out video surveys at seamounts and along vertical walls near Pico and São Jorge islands, revealing unique cold-water coral communities not commonly found elsewhere in the region. The presence of the IUCN red listed shark sailfin roughshark Oxynotus paradoxus was also noted on some of these locations. The seemingly occurrence of these unique and fragile communities suggests the existence of vulnerable marine ecosystems of high biological and conservation importance on these vertical structures.
With the LULA1000 submersible, the DeepWalls project aims to map and document the occurrence of vulnerable marine ecosystems associated with deep-sea vertical walls in the Azores.
Diving missions have been carried out in summer 2020, at deep walls near Pico and São Jorge Islands.
Marina Carreiro-Silva (PI), OKEANOS- Centro I&D da Universidade dos Açores
Telmo Morato (Co-PI), OKEANOS- Centro I&D da Universidade dos Açores
Jorge Fontes, OKEANOS- Centro I&D da Universidade dos Açores
Eva Giacomello, OKEANOS- Centro I&D da Universidade dos Açores
Consultor: Timm Schoening, GEOMAR Kiel/Germany