OceanX recently helped in the conducting of a survey of megafauna in the northern Red Sea, and boy howdy, did scientists find a lot.
The survey was the largest to date of elasmobranch species in the northern Red Sea.
The mission recorded, for the first time ever, rare species present at the northern latitudes of the Red Sea. Crucially, it identified that 75% of the species found are of conservation concern, and at least four species are critically endangered. The team collected over 450 hours of surveys covering a wide range of habitats, from shallow seagrass beds and coral reefs all the way down to depths of 1,700m/5,577ft.
Some of the megafauna findings include:
* 407 sightings of elasmobranches and sea turtles, including 28 different species
* Four species of rays and nine species of sharks not previously recorded in Saudi Arabia
* A range extension for the pink whipray (Himantura fai) and the round ribbontail ray (Taeniurops meyeni) into the Gulf of Aqaba
These extremely rare and threatened species have made their home in the Red Sea region, sparking hope that threatened species can survive safely in this ecosystem, the scientists determined. Their findings are critical for encouraging the responsible management and development of the Red Sea region to ensure the habitats of these rare species are protected.
According to a scientific paper outlining the survey’s findings, the authors write:
“Our findings provide new insights into the distribution patterns of megafaunal assemblages over smaller spatial scales in the region, and facilitate future research and conservation efforts, amidst ongoing, large-scale coastal developments in the north-eastern Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba.”
Read the full paper here.