Many new marine animal species discovered near Panama


This is a video about the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, USA.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the USA:

Smithsonian scientists discover new marine species in eastern Pacific

For 11 days, scientists lived aboard STRI’s R/V Urraca, a 95-foot vessel, part of the NSF/UNOLS fleet (a set of vessels designated for NSF-sponsored research).

Click here for more information.

Smithsonian scientists have discovered a biodiversity bounty in the Eastern Pacific—approximately 50 percent of the organisms found in some groups are new to science.

The research team spent 11 days in the Eastern Pacific, a unique, understudied region off the coast of Panama.

Coordinated by Rachel Collin of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, a team of Smithsonian scientists and international collaborators with expertise in snails, crabs, shrimp, worms, jellies and sea cucumbers participated in an intensive effort to discover organisms from this ecosystem.

Although they expected to find new species, Collin was surprised by the sheer number of novel marine organisms.

“It’s hard to imagine, while snorkeling around a tropical island that’s only a three-hour flight from the United States, that half the animals you see are unknown to science,” Collin said.

“Overwhelming diversity,” said Jon Norenburg, an expert in ribbon worms from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

More than 50 percent of the ribbon worms he collected have never been seen before.

Norenburg studies ribbon worms ranging from those so tiny they live between grains of sand to 6-foot-long specimens that eat entire crabs and sea hares.

During the expedition, Norenburg discovered new species of ribbon worms that live and reproduce among crab eggs.

These worms can be important pests of commercial species, but they are often overlooked because they are smaller than the eggs themselves.

“All the tedious dissections and microscope preparations done on a rolling, vibrating ship have really paid off,” Norenburg said.

One of the unique features of the islands off the coast of Panama is that they host animals that normally are found in the Indo-Pacific, half a world away.

“To think that the larvae of Hymenocera picta, a little shrimp we collected on Isla Seca, can survive a journey of more than 3,000 miles from the Indo-Pacific to the coast of Panama is mind blowing!” said Darryl Felder from the University of Louisiana.

Felder will use samples collected on this expedition as part of the crustacean Tree of Life, a project funded by the National Science Foundation, which aims to determine the relationships among all families of crabs and shrimps.

Even soft corals, a relatively well-studied group, yielded 15 new species over 3 years in a complimentary project organized by STRI Staff Scientist Hector Guzman.

This marine snail, Tylodina fungina, was collected in a dredge sample with its host sponge. This species feeds exclusively on a single species of sponge that matches its yellow…
Click here for more information.

Marine life and the formation of the Panama isthmus: here.

Marine larvae: here.

2 thoughts on “Many new marine animal species discovered near Panama

  1. Pingback: Birdwatching in Panama | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Deep-sea crab swarm off Panama, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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