Deep-Sea Skates Incubate Eggs Near Hydrothermal Vents
In June 2015, a team of researchers aboard E/V Nautilus made a surprising discovery while exploring the seafloor northwest of the Galapagos Islands. Large numbers of skate egg cases were observed near hydrothermal vents emitting volcanically-heated fluids. Researchers believe the warmer water helps to incubate and speed development of the embryos--the first time this behavior has been observed in marine animals. The Bathyraja spinosissima, commonly known as Pacific white skate, is a relative of sharks and rays. As one of the deepest living skate species, this species is rarely seen but has been documented from the Galapagos Islands to the Pacific Northwest.
The research team from Charles Darwin Research Station, University of Rhode Island, and the Galapagos National Park Directorate collected video surveys and specimens using ROV Hercules, recently publishing their findings in Scientific Reports.
Researchers: Pelayo Salinas-de-León, Brennan Phillips, David Ebert, Mahmood Shivji, Florencia Cerutti-Pereyra, Cassandra Ruck, Charles R. Fisher & Leigh Marsh
The E/V Nautilus will spend several weeks exploring the Galapagos Rift region. The Galápagos Islands have been instrumental in the establishment of the biological theory of evolution, gaining insights to our knowledge of the chemistry of the Earth’s interior, and understanding the plate tectonic evolution of the eastern Pacific seafloor. In 1835 Charles Darwin visited the islands aboard the HMS Beagle and made fundamental biological and geological observations in the area.