The Easter Island Ecoregion is in the center of the South Pacific gyre and experiences ultra-oligotrophic conditions that could make it highly susceptible to global change and anthropogenic activities, so it is imperative that these regions are characterized and studied so that conservation and sustainable management strategies can be developed. From the few studies from the region, we know that the coastal areas are relatively depauperate and have relatively high rates of endemism. Here, we present a brief report from the first video observations from this region of the deep-dwelling fishes from ROV exploration of benthic communities from 157 to 281 m and baited drop-camera videos from 150 to 1850 m. We observed a total of 55 fish species from the ROV and Drop-Cam surveys; nine could not be assigned family level or lower, 26 were observed in the ROV surveys, 29 were observed in the Drop-Cam surveys, nine were observed with both survey methods, at least six species are potentially new to science, and nine species were observed at deeper depths than previously reported. These new reports may be indicative of the unique oceanographic conditions in the area and the relative isolation of the communities that have provided opportunity for the evolution of new species and favorable conditions for range expansion. In contrast, these new reports may be indicative of the severe undersampling in the south Pacific at mesopelagic depths. The prevalence of potentially new species suggests that the region likely harbors a wealth of undiscovered biodiversity.
Chile - Easter Island