South East Atlantic

Hub’s researchers are exploring the deep-sea ecosystems in the South Atlantic, and connecting researchers working in this region, so that we can better understand their value and ensure sustainable use for generations to come.

Cold-water corals and seastas. Photo: IFREMER, supplied from the ATLAS project


The deep sea provides many essential ecosystem services, which play a crucial role in supporting the functioning of our planet and human well-being. In order to ensure that the deep sea and the services it provides aren’t compromised by human activities in these environments, we need to ensure that adequate policies are in place that allow us to manage deep-sea activities (such as oil and gas extraction, mining and fishing). To support policy and decision-making, we need management tools that are produced using the best available scientific knowledge.

This is where the work of the Hub  in the South East Atlantic fits in. One of the central challenges in managing deep-sea ecosystems is describing and understanding these environments before they are altered by human activities. We still know very little about the different animals found in deep-sea systems, how they function, and what services they provide. The Hub researchers are exploring some of the deep-sea ecosystems in the South Atlantic for the first time, and connecting researchers working in this region, so that we can better understand their value and ensure  sustainable use for generations to come.

Researchers are sampling the deep-sea creatures so that they can describe the communities and species that are present, and are investigating the potential ecosystem services provided by the deep sea in the South Atlantic, including potential biomedical properties of some of these creatures and carbon respiration. They are also mapping different marine habitats and ecosystem services, to support spatial planning in the region, and some of our researchers are investigating the impacts of a changing climate on cold-water corals. While the Hub researchers work across a range of focus areas, they share a common goal: to inform the management of human activities in the deep sea.

3795 meters
the average depth of the ocean
2-50 million
more species exist that have not yet been found

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