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Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021

Saudi Arabia: Giant sea creatures, new islands discovered north of Red Sea

Saudi Arabia: Giant sea creatures, new islands discovered north of Red Sea

NEOM, OceanX Red Sea expedition unveil ecological treasure trove

NEOM Co. Wednesday announced extensive findings from a joint mission with OceanX, a non-profit ocean exploration organisation, following an adventurous assessment of the northern Red Sea, local media reported.

The six-week expedition aboard the OceanXplorer, an advanced exploration, research and media vessel, generated scientific research into marine ecosystems, megafauna, brine pools and coral reef conservation and regeneration.

NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr said, “The mission efforts have made significant achievements in the identification of previously unknown natural areas, as well as unprecedented global scientific discoveries.”

Findings, captured over 960 hours of underwater research and mapping over 1,500km2 of the seabed in high resolution 3D, have established a baseline measure of biodiversity and habitat vitality that will allow NEOM to pursue its goal of both conserving and improving the health of surrounding ecosystems.

Key findings include:

• Discovery of an ocean pinnacle 635 m high (as tall as any of the world’s biggest skyscrapers except the Burj Khalifa)

• Two sightings of a large squid, caught on camera and not previously observed in the region

• Discovery of the world’s most northern deep sea brine pool (dense bodies of water that have a salinity that is three to eight times greater than the surrounding ocean)

• Recording coral reefs that are resilient to climate change

• Identification of 341 fish species in the waters of NEOM, 68 that are native to the region and 18 that are globally threatened

• Eight new species were recorded and over 600 km2 of biodiversity hotspots for fishes and corals discovered

• Confirmed presence of 12 species of megafauna in NEOM waters including whale sharks, dugong, turtles and dolphins

• Detailed surveys of three unexplored islands

• Previously unrecorded tectonic plate shifts

• Discovery of three ancient maritime and shipwreck sites

Dr Paul Marshall, head of Nature Reserve at NEOM, commented: “The global ocean system is in crisis, but the damage is reversible. This partnership with OceanX reinforces NEOM’s commitment to science, conservation and safeguarding the planet.

Dr Vincent Pieribone, chief scientist and vice chairman at OceanX, said, “This joint mission has not only had a meaningful impact on the conservation of ecosystems in the northern Red Sea but it has also produced a number of scientific discoveries of regional and global significance.”

A nine-part series covering the expedition will be launched on NEOM’s YouTube channel and OceanX’s social media channels.

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