“It was like the passage of a great fire, the entire animal forest of the gorgonians was dead… only the skeleton remained!
Here is the alarming report transmitted by photographer Alexis Rosenfeld, explorer and founder of 1 Ocean.
After the strong heat of the summer of 2022, he dived near the islands of Porquerolles, in the Var - more precisely in the area of Port-Cros - where he found that up to 30 meters deep, all the forests of gorgonians had died there.
“It is of crucial importance for the ecosystem”
"The gorgonians are large arborescent arms that create forests, like trees... but they are animals," says Alexis Rosenfeld.
Many other animals live and use these forests for shelter, to hide, to lay eggs, to reproduce, to eat.
So gorgonians are of crucial importance for the ecosystem and for marine biodiversity”.
Problem: the temperature of the waters of the Mediterranean rose, this summer, up to four to six degrees above normal: this is called an ocean heat wave.
However, all the gorgonian forests have fortunately not been affected: "Below 50 meters, the situation remains marvelous, it's a real animal forest, which is dense, there are clouds of fish".
OUR “GLOBAL WARMING” FILE
Gorgonian forests have already died massively following the heat waves of 1999, 2003 and 2006. But global warming could affect deeper aquatic areas if the situation deteriorates.
The CNRS, UNESCO and the 1 Ocean foundation seek to understand how these animals can survive, or even revive.
“Could this deep animal forest naturally restore the shallow area?
There is still hope”.
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