Report: Scientists discover new ecosystem ‘The Trap Zone’ in the Maldives

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On Monday, a report published by the local newspaper in the island nation of Maldives said that scientists from the Nekton Maldives mission have uncovered evidence of “the trap zone”. It has been described as “an oasis of ocean life”, 500 meters below the surface.

“The discovery of ‘the trapping area’ and oasis of life in the depths surrounding the Maldives provides us with critical new knowledge that further supports our commitments to ocean conservation and sustainable management, and almost certainly supports the fishing and tourism,” the country’s president said. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, welcoming the discovery.

There is video evidence taken by scientists using the Omega Seamaster II submersible’s camera that was combined with the biological samples collected, according to the Times of Addu report.

Additionally, after extensive sonar mapping, they found megafauna predators such as sharks and other large fish feeding on swarms of micro-nekton, which are small organisms that can swim independently of the current, said Professor Lucy Woodall, lead scientist at Nekton. These organisms are also trapped against the underwater landscape at the 500 meter mark.

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Moreover, they usually migrate from the depths of the sea to the surface at night and return to the depths at dawn, this phenomenon is known as vertical migration. However, it seems that the steep vertical cliffs and sloping terraces, as well as the volcanic undersea strata and fossilized carbonate reefs that form the base of the Maldivian atolls, would not allow these organisms to dive any deeper.

These trapped animals are then targeted by megafauna and large pelagic predators, including schools of sharks and tunas and large deep-sea fish like spiny oreos and alfonsinos. While scientists have found sharks in the shallow waters of the Maldives, this is the first time they have been able to document “an immense diversity of deep-sea sharks”, said Shafiya Naeem, director general of the institute. Marine Research Center of the Maldives, who also partnered with Nekton for this research.

They documented tiger sharks, six-gilled sharks, sand tiger sharks, fruit bats, gulper sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and the very rare bramble shark, according to the report. Since marine ecosystems are defined by both topography and ocean life, ‘The Trapping Zone’ “has all the hallmarks of a distinct new ecosystem”, Professor Alex Rogers said.

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He added: “The trapping area creates an oasis of life in the Maldives and it is highly likely to exist in other oceanic islands and also on the slopes of the continents.” Rogers also spent over 30 hours underwater surveying the area in one of the submersibles.
Data collected during the expedition is said to be being analyzed in the Maldives, at Nekton’s UK headquarters in Oxford and in partner laboratories. This discovery also has important implications for other islands, including aspects such as the slopes of continents, sustainable fisheries management, and carbon burial and storage, which could one day help mitigate climate change. , says the report.

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