Diverse marine life found in recent Benham Rise expedition

  • Diverse marine life was discovered during the 2nd underwater expedition to the Benham Rise
  • Using cutting-edge technology, scientists were able to extensively study the marine life found in Benham Bank
  • In 2012, the UNCLOS granted the Benham Rise to the Philippines 

An array of soft and hard corals, fish, algae, and sponges comprised some of the biological diversity documented by marine scientists from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), University of the Philippines (UP), and Oceana Philippines during a week-long expedition to Benham Rise in May.

On board the government research vessel MV DA-BFAR, the expedition team, consisting of fisheries and algae experts, microbiologists, oceanographers, and ecologists, left for Benham Bank, which is the shallowest portion of the 13 million hectare Benham Rise, last May 23 and returned on May 31, as per an article published by Manila Bulletin.

“We saw terraces of corals, as far as the eye could see. It’s so exciting to know that we have such a vast and pristine coral reef ecosystem within Philippine territory,” said Oceana Philippines marine scientist Marianne Pan-Saniano.

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) recognized Benham Rise as the Philippines’ newest territory.

During the 1st Benham Rise expedition in 2014, scientists were able to cover only five stations and dive for 25 minutes.

In last month’s expedition, the scientists were able to cover more ground using cutting-edge technology. It is all thanks to the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that took underwater photos and videos for two hours each day and also the deployed baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) to explore deeper parts of the ocean and take five hours worth of footage to determine marine life diversity and biomass, as per an article published by ABS CBN News News.

“Based on the huge success of this expedition, and the inspiring collaboration among the partners, we foresee government and stakeholders working together to protect and manage this extraordinary natural heritage which is now part of our territory,” said Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Ramos.

To see photos of the recent Benham Rise Expedition, click here.


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