The Beacon

Expedition in the Med Comes to a Close

A marbled electric ray in Portugal's Gorringe Bank seamount. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

This year’s expedition in the Mediterranean and Portuguese Atlantic has come to a close, and we’re proud to report that it was a resounding success.

The highlight of the Ranger's journey was Portugal’s Gorringe seamount, which is recognized as a hotspot in the region but has not been extensively explored.

The base of the Gorringe seamount is more than 15,000 feet deep, while its peaks are just about 100 feet deep. Need a visualization? Take one of the United States’ tallest peaks, such as Washington’s Mount Rainier, submerge it under water, and add a bunch of spectacular marine life. There you have it.

The expedition team found kelp forests, deep-sea sponge fields, black coral forests, extensive oyster beds and over 100 different species including spotted dolphins, minke whales, sea pens, slipper lobsters and fish such as orange roughies, longspine snipefish, morays and conger eels.

During the expedition, a team of scientists and divers collected photos and video footage and an underwater robot (ROV) recorded high-resolution images on the sea beds down to nearly 2,000 feet deep.

Oceana is now hoping to collaborate with the Portuguese government by providing new scientific information about unexplored areas. Our expedition’s findings reflect the area’s high levels of marine biodiversity and richness and underscore the need for greater protection of the Gorringe seamount.

Within the EU, Portugal is the country with the largest marine area and the one with the most seamounts in its territory, but currently only 0.10% of Portuguese marine areas are part of the Natura 2000 Network, making Portugal the EU country with the least percentage of areas designated to form part of this important network.

Congratulations to our European colleagues on another successful expedition in the Med! Check out more photos from the expedition on Flickr.

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