Formigas seamount: new hidrarian gardens and species revealed by DOP/UAz

The Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of the Azores (DOP/UAz) has recently used an ROV to identified exuberant hidrarian gardens and encrusting sponge assemblages on the Formigas seamount during a CoralFISH preliminary cruise.

Exciting observations were also accomplished regarding the associated fish fauna with a new labrid occurrence recorded for the archipelago (Lapanella fasciata). This species was recurrently found in close association with hidrarian fronds that grew to ~80 cm tall (right).

3D image of Formigas seamount

The Formigas seamount (left) is an important seamount located on the eastern part of the Azores archipelago and has been designated as an SAC, an OSPAR MPA and a Nature Reserve declared under the Azorean network of protected areas.

This expedition was the first to intensively exploit the capabilities of the new ROV acquired by DOP/UAz (below). Surveys were successfully conducted down to 190 m deep in an effort to survey the circalittoral assemblages which are still poorly documented in the region and identify potential coral grounds.

The ROV is a SeaBotix LBV300S-6: which is rated to 300 m, although only exceptional sea conditions allow this depth to be reached. The vehicle should be expected to carry out successful surveys down to 200m. The vehicle is equipped with 2 cameras: one colour camera (570 line/02 Lux super HAD color) and one black & white camera (430 LINE/ 0.03 LUX). ROV image
(all images courtesy of DOP/Az)  



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