The big secret lurking in the hidden depths of the Red Sea
About 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, yet despite great advances in our knowledge of the hidden depths of seas and oceans, countless mysteries remain.
The unique habitats of the Red Sea, for example, hold many secrets that scientists, marine biologists and oceanographers are keen to unlock. The latest attempt to do so was a collaboration between the NEOM megacity project and marine exploration initiative OceanX in the waters off the northeastern coast of Saudi Arabia.
A 30-strong international team, including Saudi experts, spent six weeks on one of the world’s most advanced research vessels, exploring the Red Sea. The primary aims of the expedition included mapping the seafloor, investigating the effects of climate change, and researching coral ecology and reef resilience, among other things. However, a few unexpected surprises lay in wait...
In an Arab News exclusive, experts from NEOM tell us why the expedition was so important and explain the significance of its discoveries.
Deep sea ROV to 6,000 meters
Two submersibles to 1,000 meters
Mission control room
30-person crew, including four NEOM specialists, five from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, plus 11 KAUST researchers
Photic coral Usually found in shallow, clear, sunny areas.
Mesophotic coral Found in tropical and subtropical regions at depths ranging from 30-150 meters
Deep sea coral Habitat extends to deeper, darker parts of the oceans
(endangered) This large, hard-shelled turtle is mainly a herbivore that forages for seagrass and algae, but occasionally it will feed on sponges and other invertebrates.
Red Sea lionfish
Venomous coral reef fish up to 47 cm in length
(endangered) Non-migratory, reef-associated fish found in coral reefs and adjacent sandy bottoms
(critically endangered) Closely related to rays, owing their name to their shape (triangular head, wide body and shark-like tail)
(endangered) Also known as the Napoleon fish. Capable of reaching up to 2 meters and weighing up to 180 kg
Mystery giant squid
Found at around 650 meters while investigating a shipwreck
(critically endangered) Unlike most sharks, hammerhead species usually swim in schools during the day, sometimes in groups of over 100
Three ancient shipwreck sites discovered during the expedition
(endangered) Slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark up to 18 meters in length
Pieces of amphorae (pottery containers) indicates the vessel was likely a coastal trader carrying goods from the Roman empire.