Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 40 (2) July 2012
Colonial life under the Humboldt Current System: deep-sea corals from O’Higgins I seamount.
A benthic community constituted by an assemblage of at least four species of deep-sea corals collected in only one trawl carried-out on the summit of the O’Higgins I seamount, central Chile. The corals were collected in only one trawl carried-out during a Chilean-Japanese cruise onboard the R/V” Koyo Maru” in December 29, 2004. Presence of oxygenated and cold Antarctic Intermediate Water (>400 m depth) on the plateau was recorded under of the Equatorial Subsurface Water associated to the oxygen-minimum zone (OMZ, <1 mL O2 L-1). The biogeographic origin of the fauna evidenced a mix of Subantarctic and central Chile continental margin species. The assemblage is represented by two species of anthipatarians (Leiopathes sp. and Chrysopathes sp.), one unidentified species of Paragorgiidae and one species of Isididae (Acanella chilensis). The study demonstrated that deep-water corals of the O’Higgins seamount provide crucial habitat for commercially important crustacean exploited along continental margin off central Chile such as nylon shrimp (Heterocarpus reedi). This resource as well as some fishes such as alfonsino (Beryx splendens) and orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) could drawing the commercial fishing industry to these fragile areas poorly known Chilean marine benthic communities. Due to a strong economic pressure, fast actions for marine conservation of seamounts are required in Chile.
Author: Juan I. Cañete & Verena Häussermann

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