As the deep diving robot ROV SuBastian explored the mesophotic (deep water) zone in Ashmore Reef Marine Park, Australia, it sent back marvellous images of the seafloor and its denizens, to the delight of the scientists attached to the expedition.
The images revealed the great diversity of the coral-dominated areas, calcareous algal beds, and sponge gardens.
Along with the images, it also helped scientists gather detailed information about the underwater life.
The exploration also yielded many secrets.
Located in the Australian External Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, 630 kilometres north of Broome and 111 kilometres south of the Indonesian island of Roti, the Ashmore Reef Marine Park is largely known as a sanctuary for seabirds, shorebirds, marine turtles, dugongs, and many other marine species.
Organised by Schmidt Ocean Institute, the 18-day scientific expedition was led by Dr. Karen Miller of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
The science team, which also included scientists from the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Western Australia Museum with support from Parks Australia, studied the mesophotic zone, gathering information about the species found between 50 and 150 meters.
The robot helped scientists to look at animals and these underwater areas in great detail, the Institute said.
According to Dr Miller, the observations of the reefs showed the mesophotic zone at Ashmore to be diverse, vibrant, and healthy. “We found no evidence of coral damage, showing the marine park is helping to preserve this special ecosystem,” she said.
Interestingly, the expedition also included Australian artist Ellie Hannon as the Artist-at-Sea berth. She captured the beauty of the reef through her paintings created on-board.