Sunday, July 14, 2024

OceanX Expedition Conducted A Big Megafauna Survey of Northern Red Sea


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.

Spotted Guitarfish in the Northern Red Sea (Image credit: OceanX)
Spotted Guitarfish in the Northern Red Sea (Image credit: OceanX)

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

Round Ribbontail Ray (Image credit: OceanX)
Round Ribbontail Ray (Image credit: OceanX)

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.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle in Northern Red Sea (Image credit: OceanX)
Hawksbill Sea Turtle in Northern Red Sea (Image credit: OceanX)
John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.