Mallorca Environment: Life Intemares project
Three new species of sponges were discovered in the underwater mountains of the Mallorca Canal during a scientific investigation by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography.
According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, the scientific information was obtained by the IEO, during oceanographic research campaigns produced as part of the Life Intemares project and coordinated by the Biodiversity Foundation.
The underwater mountains of the Mallorca Canal are home to a multitude of diverse habitats and species of community interest.
Among the most recent discoveries is the description of a genus, Foraminospongia and three new species of sponges: Foraminospongia balearica, Foraminospongia minuta and Paratimea massutii, as published in the international scientific journal PeerJ.
The research also contains records of 4 new sponges that were hitherto unknown in the Mediterranean and others that highlight the value of the underwater mountains of the Mallorca Canal as a refuge for biodiversity in the Mediterranean.
The first results of the Life Intemares project in the Mallorca Canal, which were published in 2019 in the International Journal of the Marine Biological Association in the United Kingdom, also reported the discovery of the species, Ophiomyces grandis. It was an ofiura, a starfish-like echinoderm, which was previously unknown in the Mediterranean and very abundant in the underwater mountains of the Mallorca Channel.
These results are part of a doctoral thesis, which is being developed within the Life Intemares Project and co-financed by the government and the European Social Fund.
The Life Intemares project studies the underwater mountains of Its Olives and March Ausias, east of the Pitiusas Islands and Mount Émile Baudot, east of the Pitiusas and south of Mallorca.
In addition to sheltering the fields and gardens of a wide variety of sponges, these underwater forests have identified habitats of community interest included in the Habitats Directive, which ensure the conservation of designated sites.
The maërl beds, formed of rhodolites or calcareous red algae on the summits of the Ausias March and Emile Baudot mountains, are probably the deepest in the western Mediterranean.
widespread and numerous pockmark fields have been found around the three mountains and coral bottoms, in rocky outcrops of mountain slopes and in adjacent sedimentary bottoms, where bamboo coral has been found.
Oyster fossil bio-constructions, were also found forming a reef around the Three Seamountains, at a depth of 200-400 meters.
The information obtained during the research campaigns will make it possible to improve the scientific knowledge of the underwater mountains of the Mallorca Canal and the surrounding area.