The seamounts of the Gorringe Bank

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April, 2014

The Gorrringe Bank, located 1600 nautical mmiles SW off the Portuguuese coast, hhas been objject of several sstudies sincee it was discovered in 18875 by Captaain Henry HHoneychurch Gorringe annd his crew. Aftfter that, in thhe twentiethh century, Priince Alberto I of Monacoo developed vvarious camppaigns in the arrea. Ever sinnce,  several studies havee taken placce in Gorringge Bank by mmeans of diffferent samplingg tools (draggnets, bottomm trawl nets, , etc.) and soonar systemss, although itt was only inn 1998 when thee first diverss documentedd the summiits of its seammounts. Thanks to this pprevious workk, it is now knoown that the base of the GGorringe Bannk lies at 5,0000 m depth, and that th he peaks of thhe two main seaamounts thaat form this eelevation (Geettysburg annd Ormonde)) are placed at less than 50 m beneath the sea surfface. This iss, indeed, whhat confers tto this undeerwater featuure its peculliarity, allowingg the occurrennce of a widee range of sp pecies going ffrom photosyynthetic to abbyssal ones, which live in coomplete darkkness. In relation to thiss, it is also nnotorious thee vast diversiity of habitatts and its high llevels of prodductivity, esppecially in th hose ones thaat are placed in the euphootic zone.

Oceana hhas carried oout various expeditions inn the Gorringge Bank, cataaloguing mo ore than a huundred species aand a wide vaariety of habbitats. The firrst expeditionn took place in 2005, andd subsequent ones in 2011 aand 2012. Inn total, more than 52 ROVV footage hoours (during 21 dives), coomplementedd with more thaan 10 hours recorded during scuba ddives and aroound 2,200 ppictures havee been underrtaken in Gorriinge waters. During thesse dives, sammples of diffferent organnisms have bbeen collecteed for further identification. Mayor acchievementss involve th e collection of comprehhensive biollogical informattion and the documentation of imporrtant habitatss and speciess such as commmercial onees and VMEs inndicators, neever documeented beforee in these a rea. These ffindings suppport the muultiple evidencees of the highhly valuable enclave thatt the Gorringge Bank reprresents, and d its high neccessity for proteection.

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