Since the discovery of hydrothermal vents in 1977, research in chemosynthetic environments has provided many surprises about life in the deep-sea. One of the most startling discoveries was the diverse and specialized fauna found at large organic falls such as whale carcasses. The sulphide and lipid-rich nature of decomposing whalebones is thought to create an habitat intermediate to that of vents and seeps, and have allowed several vent (or seep)/whale conspecifics to use large organic falls as dispersal stepping-stones over evolutionary or ecological time-scales.

CARCACE aims to study the community response to intense pulses of organic falls and their importance as sulphide-rich habitat islands in the Atlantic Ocean deep-sea floor.

Funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) CARCACE brings together a team of Portuguese scientists with expertise in several aspects of chemosynthetic environments biology: from taxonomy and anatomy of invertebrates, to trophic and reproductive ecology and biogeography.

During CARCACE mammal carcasses, deployed in the Setúbal canyon (west Portuguese margin) and the Condor Seamount (Azores) at approximately 1000m depth will be visited and sampled regularly.



Ana Hilário

CESAM, Departamento de Biologia

Campus Universitário de Santiago

3810-125 Aveiro, Portugal

Tel: +351 234 370771; E-mail: