Israeli researchers uncovered, in the deep sea eastern Mediterranean, brine pools with a biologically diverse paradise, including a rich food web-based on methane and the largest sharks and shark nursery.
These are among the most significant marine habitat discoveries in Israel’s history, with potentially substantial consequences for the global community’s knowledge of climate change.
“From a global marine research perspective, this discovery can have enormous implications,” said Dr. Yizhaq Makovsky, from the University of Haifa, one of the leading researchers. “The Eastern Mediterranean Sea can be regarded as an early-warning system for what we can expect from marine environments across the world. Therefore, we believe that our discovery of a previously unknown deep-sea hotspot of life could provide crucial information for the sustainability and resilience of the marine ecosystem not only in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also globally in other oceans.”
“The deep sea is the Earth’s climatic capacitor, mitigating short-term changes,” Makovsky said. “Once the impact of surface synoptic changes migrates to the deep sea, the entire climate of the Earth changes. The Eastern Mediterranean Sea experienced multiple climatic and anthropogenic changes at different time scales. Investigating the geological and environmental records concealed in this hotspot will provide a high-resolution record of the impact of changes on the deep sea, which is essential for understanding local and global climatic changes.”
“This is a shocking revelation to those who are familiar with the Eastern Mediterranean, which was thought of as an ocean desert,” Makovsky explained.
Yet the expedition revealed that the shark nursery had existed for a long period before it was exposed. In fact, the hotspot could be the region’s largest mating location for these deep-sea sharks.
“This was happening under our noses for thousands of years, right next to Tel Aviv, one of the largest cities in Israel,” said Makovsky. “It was hiding in plain sight, which highlights how little we know about the deep sea — not just off the coast of Israel, but around the world. This is a global challenge.”