First in situ observations of the benthic-demersal fauna on the upper continental slope off Punta Pichalo (19°36'S), northern Chile
An autonomous lander equipped with a video camera (dropcam) was used for in situ observations of the bento-demersal macrofauna on the upper continental slope off Punta Pichalo in northern Chile, an area of permanent coastal upwelling processes, located ~70 km north of Iquique. The lander was deployed at nine stations and between 227 and 798 m of depth. According to morphological characteristics, 34 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified to the lowest taxonomic level; 24 belonged to macroinvertebrates and 10 to fishes. Macroinvertebrates comprised 9 OTUs of crustaceans, seven cnidarians, and six echinoderms. Fishes included 3 OTUs of the order Chondrichthyes, 3 belonging to macrourid. Perciformes, Anguilliformes, and Alepocephaliformes were represented by one OTU each. Also, we observed one species of lanternfish (Myctophidae). Apart from the brachyuran decapod Lophorochinia parabranchia Garth, 1969 and euphausiids, all species were observed at depths greater than 560 m. The presence of one individual identified as the granulate dogfish Centroscyllium granulatum Günther, 1887 extended the known distribution range of this species about 1000 km to the north. Images taken at 795 m showed Bathyraja peruana McEachran & Miyake, 1984. Our study suggests that the upper continental slope of northern Chile harbors nearly undiscovered biodiversity, worth to be studied more intensively to complete the comparable sparse knowledge about marine biodiversity and species distribution at the continental margin in front of Chile.