10/02/2021 at 10:08 CEST
The Spanish Institute of Oceanography has discovered a new genus and new appointments of sponge species in the Mediterranean, specifically in the seamounts of the Balearic Islands. The scientific information obtained by the IEO will serve as the basis for studying a possible declaration of this space as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) within the Natura 2000 Network. The Life Intemares project, coordinated by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, is helping to improve knowledge of marine species and habitats
A living sea. Despite pollution, the impact of spills and trawling, the Mediterranean continues to provide good news. The Spanish Institute of Oceanography has discovered three sea sponges, an invertebrate aquatic animal that can live for thousands of years. The seamounts between Ibiza and Mallorca are home to a great wealth and diversity of habitats and species of community interest, as confirmed by the scientific information obtained by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, throughout the oceanographic research campaigns that are carried out. in the Life Intemares project, coordinated by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
Among the most recent findings, published in the international scientific journal PeerJ, the description of a genus (Foraminospongia) and three new species of sponges for science: Foraminospongia balearica, Foraminospongia minuta and Paratimea massutii.
In addition, the research provides four new records of sponges in the Mediterranean whose presence was not known until now in this area, as well as other observations that show the value of the seamounts of the Mallorca Canal as a refuge for biodiversity in the Mediterranean.
In fact, the first results of the project in the Mallorca Canal, published in 2019 in the international journal Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, also reported the discovery of another species: Ophiomyces grandis. In this case, it was a starfish (echinoderm similar in appearance to the starfish) whose presence in the Mediterranean was unknown until then and is very abundant in the seamounts of the Mallorca Channel.
These results are part of a doctoral thesis, which is developed within the Life Intemares project, co-financed by the Government of the Balearic Islands and the European Social Fund. The project is studying the seamounts of Ses Olives and Ausias March, located east of Ibiza, as well as Mount Emile Baudot, also located east of these islands and south of Mallorca.
In addition to sheltering fields and gardens from a great diversity of sponges, habitats of community interest included in the Habitats Directive have been identified in these seamounts, which guarantee the maintenance of a favorable state of conservation of the designated places.
This is the case of the maërl seabeds, formed by rhodoliths or calcareous red algae on the tops of the Ausias March and Emile Baudot mountains, they are probably the deepest in the western Mediterranean.
Pockmark fields have also been found (habitats of great relevance) widespread and numerous around the three mountains and coral bottoms, not only on the rocky outcrops on the slopes of the mountains, but also on the adjacent sedimentary bottoms, where the bamboo coral (Isidella elongata).
Furthermore, fossil bio-constructions of ostreids, which form a reef around the three seamounts, between 200 and 400 meters deep.
The information obtained contributes to improving the scientific knowledge of the seamounts of the Mallorca Canal and its adjacent bathyal beds, and will serve as the basis for studying a possible declaration of this space as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) within the Natura 2000 Network.
The Life Intemares project advances towards the objective of achieving effective management of the marine areas of the Natura 2000 Network, with the active participation of the sectors involved and with research as basic tools. The Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge coordinates the project.
The porifers, also called spongiaries or sponges, they are aquatic animals and invertebrates, which are part of the sub-kingdom of the parazoans. This means that poriferous species do not have organs, nerves or muscles, although they do have an internal skeleton made up of spicules.
Estimates of longevity among sponges vary widely, but are typically in the thousands of years. A study in the journal Aging Research Reviews states that a sponge of the Monorhaphis chuni species lived to be 11,000 years old. And, indeed, sponges are animals and have incredible longevity.
They have a great capacity to reproduce asexually. Reproduction in sponges has several peculiarities. There are some dioecious species, but most are hermaphrodites, although the release of eggs and sperm does not occur at the same time.
Main photo: Manu San Félix
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