A team from Israel’s University of Haifa’s Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences has discovered an area of deep-sea coral reefs off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea. These are the first deep-sea coral reefs to be discovered in this area. The team found a few miles of deep-sea corals about 2,300 feet down and 18 to 25 miles off the coast of Tel Aviv during their two-and-a-half-week trip. It was an unexpected find because this region of the Mediterranean has very little sea life. Dr. Yizhaq Makovsky, who directed the university’s control center for the project, said, “We did not expect, know or even imagine that we would come across these reefs and certainly not such large ones. It’s like finding a flourishing oasis in the middle of the desert.”
During the trip, the ship’s robots reached as far as 1 mile down. This and other technologies aboard the Nautilus enabled them to discover the deep-sea coral reefs, a Chimera monstrosa (a “ghost shark” that branched off from sharks about 400 million years ago), two shipwrecks, and fish and crabs that the crew was able to photograph in their natural habitat for the first time.
More research is planned for the future on the area’s seabed. But for now, the research team has started to study the many discoveries that they made during the voyage.