A deep sea community at the Kebrit brine pool in the Red Sea
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Approximately 25 deep sea brine pools occur along the mid axis of the Red Sea. These hypersaline, anoxic, and acidic environments have previously been reported to host diverse microbial communities. We visited the Kebrit brine pool in April 2013 and found macrofauna present just above the brine–seawater interface (~1465 m). In particular, inactive sulfur chimneys had associated epifauna of sea anemones, sabellid type polychaetes, and hydroids, and infauna consisting of capitellid polychaetes, gastropods of the genus Laeviphitus (fam. Elachisinidae), and top snails of the family Cocculinidae. The deep Red Sea generally is regarded as extremely poor in benthos. We hypothesize that the periphery along the Kebrit holds increased biomass and biodiversity that are sustained by prokaryotes associated with the brine pool or co-occurring seeps.
KeywordsDHAB Inactive chimneys Benthic fauna Cnidarians Molluscs Polychaetes
We are grateful to all help from the other Leg 4 Red Sea Expedition 2013 KAUST participants; André Antunes, Ioannis Georgakakis, Thor A. Klevjer, Perdana Karim Prihartato, Anders Røstad, and Ingrid Solberg. The Red Sea Expedition 2013 was sponsored by KAUST. Leonidas Manousakis and Manolis Kalergis from Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) assisted in ROV operations. The captain and crew of the R/V Aegaeo provided support during the entire cruise. Ohoud Mohammed Eid Alharbi assisted with the electron microscopy. We solicited taxonomic opinions from Anders Warén and Yasunori Kano on gatropods, Graham Oliver on bivalves, and Fran Saborido-rey on fish.
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