Sea lilies discovered 9,000 meters down

This video is called Introduction to Fossil Crinoids part 1.

And this is #2.

From the Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan:

Sea lilies found 9,000 meters down in Izu-Ogasawara trench

A colony of crinoids–deep-sea animals known as sea lilies–has been found on the seabed about 9,000 meters below sea level in the Izu-Ogasawara oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean, according to a group of experts that reported its findings in a scientific journal.

The discovery was made when a research team comprising experts from Tokyo University and Tsukuba University analyzed photographs and video images taken in December 1999 by the Kaiko unmanned deep-sea research vehicle belonging to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Scientific and Technology. The team published its findings in Zoological Science magazine.

Although crinoids are commonly called sea lilies, they are marine animals belonging to the echinoderm family, which includes sea urchins and starfish. The area where the colony was found is believed to be the world’s deepest habitat for the species.

The research team confirmed the presence of many sea lilies in the photographs and video images. The sea lilies they identified have stalks about 13 centimeters long and arms about 10 centimeters long that resemble flower petals. They appeared to belong to one of the Bourgueticrinida varieties of crinoid that live in deep waters.

Waters more than 6,000 meters below sea level are called the hadopelagic zone–a dark, cold world exposed to hydraulic pressure several hundred times that of atmospheric pressure. As the place where the sea lilies were found is nearly the deepest part of the Izu-Ogasawara trench, the latest findings suggest such areas might contain abundant organic material that serve as food, according to the research team.

“It’s possible there are similar colonies of sea lilies on deep-sea floors that haven’t been researched yet,” a member of the team said.

(Jul. 14, 2009)

The oldest cinctan carpoid (stem-group Echinodermata), and the evolution of the water vascular system: here.

Urged on by urchins: How sea lilies got their get-up-and-go: here.

Sea urchins: here.

A new genus & 13 new species of sea stars from the Aleutian Island Archipelago: here.

Sunstars: here.

Feather Stars, beautiful and peaceful water filters on the Great Barrier Reef: here.

How do sea urchins see? According to the latest research, with their whole body! Here.

Purple sea urchin metamorphosis controlled by histamine: here.

Plated Cambrian Bilaterians Reveal the Earliest Stages of Echinoderm Evolution: here.

12 thoughts on “Sea lilies discovered 9,000 meters down

  1. Diving team tests exploration device – The Kuwait Environment Protection Society’s (KEPS; BirdLife in Kuwait) diving team has successfully launched a self-propelled submarine device that can be used for deep-sea research and documentation activities. “The test was conducted in a swimming pool to guarantee effectiveness”, said Waleed Al-Shatti – KEPS Marine Operations Director. “The aim of introducing this device was to help the diving team conduct its volunteer marine operations with more efficiency”. The submarine design is based on the ‘diving bell’ – one of the earliest inventions for under water exploration that was developed in the 16th century. The device weighs 60 kg and comprises a glass house that allows for clear vision of the seabed. It is self-propelled and has a device allowing for upward and downward movement while travelling across the water.


  2. Sunday, 10.25.09

    In the Keys, long-spinned sea urchin makes a comeback

    * Historic military vessel to become artificial reef


    KEY WEST — Amid 300-pound groupers, curious barracudas and a rainbow of tropical fish attracted to a new artificial reef off Key West, a tiny creature is causing a big stir among conservationists: the long-spined sea urchin.

    Decimated by disease during the early 1980s, the urchins have struggled to recover in the Caribbean Basin. Sightings of them in the Lower Keys had been rare until divers began spotting them on the reef created by the sinking of the USS Vandenberg five months ago.

    “Wow, that’s cool, and very interesting,” said Jon Dodrill, head of Florida’s Artificial Reef Program. “It’s been a long-term concern that the urchins were not coming back.”

    The urchins — related to starfish and also called diademas — play a critical role in the reef ecosystem, devouring algae that can stifle coral growth and lead to coral disease.

    Capt. Joe Weatherby, who spearheaded the 13-year effort to sink the 523-foot Vandenberg, called them “the ocean’s lawn mowers” for their algae-munching diet.

    So far, Weatherby said, divers have seen only juvenile urchins, with bodies the size of a dime or nickel and sharp black spines up to 3 inches long. One spine even punctured Weatherby’s glove and stuck under his thumbnail.

    The massive steel vessel rests in 150 feet of water, but its top side — where divers first began seeing the urchins — is about 70 feet below the surface. There, the urchins claimed their first real estate, including an observatory platform. Weatherby said the area provides protection from prey and sunlight that creates food.


    “Now, the urchins are all over the ship,” he said.

    Ed Little, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, said the presence of young spiny lobsters also are a surprise at the artificial reef.

    “Small lobsters are not found naturally in that habitat; they find shallow water,” Little said. “But they are getting their cue that this is a good place to go, instead of swimming another five miles into shore.”

    Little said real estate is at a premium in the ocean. “Put something new in the water,” he said, “and marine life will take advantage, almost like the old saying: `Build it and they will come.’ ”

    But unlike natural reefs that take decades to grow, it took only two minutes and lots of explosives for the Vandenberg to go from seaworthy vessel to underwater housing for sea creatures. In previous incarnations, the ship had served as World War II transporter, Cold War missile tracker and sci-fi movie set.

    On a recent dive, Weatherby swam past giant radar dishes that once tracked Soviet missiles and into rooms that once served as the galley and captain’s quarters. He pointed out nooks and crannies where spiny oysters and other sea life hides. Don Kincaid, vice chairman of the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society’s Board of Trustees, said he expects the Vandenberg ultimately will attract a mix of marine life like few other places in the world. The reason, he says, is location. The Vandenberg is “smack in the middle” of several major environmental influences: the Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream.

    “Here the conditions are different all the time,” Kincaid said. “We have muddy water, clear water, strong spring tides and currents that surge through from the Gulf of Mexico. . . . What marine soup ends up being here, nobody really knows.”


    The state of Florida has funded a two-year study of marine life near the ship to be conducted by the Key Largo-based non-profit Reef Environmental Education Foundation.

    “There is still some controversy on whether artificial reefs really serve their purpose,” said Paul Humann, REEF’s chairman of the board. “Some scientists believe all an artificial reef does is pull marine life from the surrounding community, as opposed to creating an environment to build its own community.”

    Volunteer fish surveyors conducted a baseline survey of the area before the ship was sunk on a sandy bottom about 400 yards from a natural reef in the protected Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Two months later, another survey documented 45 species, including biocolor damselfish, sharpnose puffers and spotted goatfish. Another survey is planned for December. The basic research diving class at the Florida Keys Community College also is monitoring marine life on the ship. “You can see the food chain just blossoming,” said Patrick Rice, dean of marine science and technology.

    Kincaid estimates that the ship already is home to about 70,000 baitfish and up to 10,000 juvenile yellowtail snappers. Crew members of the Starfish Enterprise dive boat say five Goliath groupers, including one nearly as big as a Volkswagen, have taken residence at the ship.


    In five years, Little said he expects the Vandenberg, with its radar dishes and more complex structure, will feature a fish community a little more diverse than the Spiegel Grove, a 510-foot military ship sunk off Key Largo in 2002. By 2007, 191 species had been documented on that ship, though there are never that many species on the ship at any one time.


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