Megafauna of the German exploration licence area for seafloor massive sulphides along the Central and South East Indian Ridge (Indian Ocean)

Gerdes, Klaas; Kihara, Terue Cristina; Martínez Arbizu, Pedro; Kuhn, Thomas; Schwarz-Schampera, Ulrich; Mah, Christopher L.; Norenburg, J.L.; Linley, Thomas D.; Shalaeva, Kate; Macpherson, Enrique; Gordon, Dennis; Stöhr, Sabine; Messing, Charles G.; Bober, Simon; Guggolz, Theresa; Christodoulou, Magdalini; Gebruk, Andrey; Kremenetskaia, Antonina; Kroh, Andreas; Sanamyan, Karen; Bolstad, Kathrin; Hoffman, Leon; Gooday, Andrew J.; Molodtsova, Tina N.  Biodiversity Data Journal 9: e69955 (2021)   DIGITAL CSIC

The growing interest in mineral resources of the deep sea, such as seafloor massive sulphide deposits, has led to an increasing number of exploration licences issued by the International Seabed Authority. In the Indian Ocean, four licence areas exist, resulting in an increasing number of new hydrothermal vent fields and the discovery of new species. Most studies focus on active venting areas including their ecology, but the non-vent megafauna of the Central Indian Ridge and South East Indian Ridge remains poorly known. In the framework of the Indian Ocean Exploration project in the German license area for seafloor massive sulphides, baseline imagery and sampling surveys were conducted yearly during research expeditions from 2013 to 2018, using video sledges and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

New information
This is the first report of an imagery collection of megafauna from the southern Central Indian- and South East Indian Ridge, reporting the taxonomic richness and their distribution. A total of 218 taxa were recorded and identified, based on imagery, with additional morphological and molecular confirmed identifications of 20 taxa from 89 sampled specimens. The compiled fauna catalogue is a synthesis of megafauna occurrences aiming at a consistent morphological identification of taxa and showing their regional distribution. The imagery data were collected during multiple research cruises in different exploration clusters of the German licence area, located 500 km north of the Rodriguez Triple Junction along the Central Indian Ridge and 500 km southeast of it along the Southeast Indian Ridge.