History: The Discovery of Vema Seamount - Vema Seamount, once referred to simply as the exceptionally shallow seamount was discovered in 1957 by the R.V. Vema, and traverses were made then as well as in 1959 by the Vema and in 1963 by the R.V. Robert D. Conrad. In November 1964 a detailed survey of the peak was undertaken, using the diamond prospecting tug, Emerson K(Simpson & Heydorn, 1965). The peak was then for the first time established to have a position at 31 38' S.,8° 20' E. Subsequent to the visit by the Emerson K there have been many unregulated visits by commercial fishing vessels from many different countries, as the territory remained unclaimed until the Vema Seamount Declaration of Sovereignty in August 2006.
The island of Vema Seamount
When you look at the world map, you soon realize that Vema Seamount, is not an island in the strict sense. However it is a rock uniquely classified as an island. This is because this unique underwater mountain is among the very few seamounts in the world that meets most of the characteristics of an oceanic island. Furthermore a study published by the Government of Mount Vema agreed with the views of the University of Cape Town and Nature Publishing Group published in 1966 of the probability that Vema Seamount was once an island at the surface of the sea.
In 2014, The Royal Foundation Academy of Mount Vema concluded in its report presented to His Majesty King Peter Jon Goldishman that its findings were very similar to that reported by Heirtzler James in 1966 titled 'Magnetic Anomaly over Vema Seamount'. The Heirtzler James 1966 Report states that the fact that Vema Seamount magnetization is not exactly reversed suggested that Vema Seamount is not homogeneously magnetized, due perhaps to differential deformation. The theory was supported by the Royal Foundation Academy of Mount Vema in 2014 who also believes based on its own findings that the deformation and the millions of years of wave action eroded the island from the time when the top was at the surface of the sea and planed it off, which explains the Vema Seamount’s flat top.
Heirtzler James 1966 findings report and the Royal Foundation Academy of Mount Vema findings in 2014, both indicate that the magnetic anomaly of Vema Seamount shows the negative part of the anomaly pattern occurring towards magnetic north relative to the positive part of the pattern, indicating that the seamount could not have been formed at a time when the earth's magnetic field was in its present direction, but rather at a time when the field was in nearly the opposite direction.
His Majesty’s Government of Mount Vema officially concluded that Vema Seamount is therefore much older than previously thought and it was once an island at the surface of the sea. What remains of the island is what we came to know as a seamount with a rocky summit substrate, phonolite outcrops, bedrock of volcanic ash agglomerates, and calcareous accretions. A plateau-like summit approximately 14 kilometers in diameter, with the highest peak located on the southern flank, and a mean base diameter of about 60 kilometers.
Marine Inhabitants of Vema Seamount
The Vema Seamount Marine Inhabitants are a collection of animals consisting of over 20 species of algae and over 100 species of benthic invertebrates.
The rocky terrain of the Seamount summit has made the perfect home for lesser algae, encrusting which are the dominant animals in the island and especially kelps.
Kelps are large seaweeds that grow in underwater "forests" in shallow oceans, and is thought to have appeared in the Miocene, 23 to 5 million years ago. The organisms require nutrient-rich water with temperatures between 6 and 14 °C (43 and 57 °F). Because the Vema Seamount water temperature is much colder (100 meters below sea level) than the island’s average surface temperature of 18 °C, it made the perfect home for kelps.
The three largest zoogeographical groups of animals on the seamount are the endemic species of which the majority belongs to the Porifera and Ascidiacea, the cosmopolitan species, and species found only in Vema Seamount and in South Africa. Species found in Vema Seamount whose distribution are limited to the Indo-Pacific region, and to West Africa and Europe with some overlapping into South Africa. combined they make the Vema Seamount fauna.
Other fishes on Vema Seamount are surface-living pelagic forms not normally found close to land but presumably attracted by the rich food available at the edges of the oceanic islands and in the shallow water of Vema Seamount. The fish of this type recorded in Vema Seamount are Coryphaena hippurus and Thunnus spp. from Vema Seamount, and Scomberesox saurus, Prionace glauca and Exocoetus exsiliens from Tristan Da Cunha.
Another group of pelagic fishes in Vema Seamount are wide ranging but normally congregate close to land such as Seriola lalandi, Thyrsites atun and Sphaeroides cutaneus. The first can be found both in Vema Seamount and Tristan Da Cunha, the second only in Tristan Da Cunha and the third only in Vema Seamount.
Although some species have already been wiped out due to unregulated fishing activities before the Vema Seamount Declaration of Sovereignty in August 2006, the Vema Seamount Authority intends to re-introduce many of the species to boost the world food supply, and it will include the rock lobster (Jasus tristani) which is confined only to Vema Seamount and the relatively close Tristan da Cunha group of islands.