Enigmatic seafloor gouge marks at depths of 1700-2100 m have been observed from submersible during geological survey work studying mud volcanoes in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The marks consist of a central groove (about 10 cm deep and 1-2 m long), superimposed on a broader bowl-shaped depression (1-2 m long by about 50 cm wide) with raised rims (up to 10 cm high) to either side of the central groove. We discuss the potential biological causes of these marks, and conclude that they are probably created by Cuvier's beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) during foraging dives to these depths. The mud volcanoes have a comparatively rich and diverse benthic ecology associated with methane-rich fluid seeps and thus could be the base of food chains that reach top predators like the deep-diving whales. The characteristic high acoustic backscatter of the mud volcanoes would facilitate their detection by the echolocation system of these whales. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
|Journal||Deep-Sea Research Part 1. Oceanographic Research Papers|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|