Friday , June 25 2021

Rare "sharked" discovery hidden in deep water west of Ireland

A huge shark "plant school" swarming with the predatory fish and sprinkled with its eggs has been found in the water 200 miles off the western Irish coast.

The rare discovery was made by a remote-driven vehicle exploring the region's cold water coral reefs at a depth of approximately 750 m.

Researchers observed a large school of blackmouth catsharks, a relatively small species found throughout the northeastern Atlantic, along with the more unusual and lonely sailfin roughshark.

The site's eggfall, or mermaid trophies, are rarely seen in such a large number and are considered to belong to the katsharks.

While there were no shark puppets swung around the site, the researchers behind the SeaRover survey as captured images would keep an eye on events there and possibly make sure they hatch in the future.

"No kids were obvious at the site and it is believed that the adult sharks can exploit broken coral reefs and exposed carbonate stones to put on their eggs," said David Sullivan, chief researcher at SeaRover.

"A healthy coral reef nearby, can serve as a refuge for the young fish shark peaks when they are hatching.

"It is expected that further investigation of the site will answer some important scientific questions about biological and ecological conditions for deep water sharks in Irish waters."

The new results were announced at INFOMAR Seabed Mapping Seminar in Kinsale this week, where the marine scientists played highlights taken by Holland 1 underwater vehicle.

"We are pleased that this discovery has been presented at today's events, demonstrating the importance of mapping our ocean-based habitats to understand and manage our vast and valued marine resources," said Sullivan.

"Our data and team continue to make significant contributions to exploiting our marine wealth."

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Informar is an initiative of the Irish government and the new discovery will help the country to fulfill its obligations to monitor deep water sharks as part of its marine conservation program.

Nursery school was found in one of six special conservation areas in Ireland's huge marine area.

These regions, designated by the EU, are home to a huge amount of creatures from ocean fans to a variety of fish species. Due to its protected status, trawlers can not work in these zones.

"Our main goal is to assess, protect and monitor the rich diversity of Ireland's rich seas, so that we can effectively manage our marine resources," said Dr Yvonne Leahy from Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service.

"Without knowledge of what lives in our seas, we risk never to fully understand and appreciate Ireland's marine environment."

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