Many new marine animal species discovered

This is

A video by the Census of Marine Life about why we need to monitor biodiversity in the oceans and how it can be done using existing technologies on a global scale.

By Alison Auld, The Associated Press:

Deep sea census finds bizarre marine life

Last Updated: 22nd November 2009, 3:27pm

From a translucent jumbo octopus to a fish bearing barbed fangs, scientists say they have discovered hundreds of new species living several kilometres beneath the ocean surface and in total darkness.

Researchers probing pitch-black waters from the Antarctic to deep seas off Iceland say they have cataloged about 5,700 marine life forms that have never seen light, with some being new to science.

The data, part of the ongoing Census of Marine Life project, stunned some of the international scientists who say the unexpected finds show how poorly understood the deep seas are and how much more there could be out there.

“It really illustrates just how little we know about the deep ocean and how species-rich it is,” Paul Snelgrove, a marine biologist at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., said before the release of the findings Sunday.

“The fact that they’re so pervasive is really the exciting thing.”

Scientists plumbed waters from the continental margins to a spine-like ridge running down the mid-Atlantic, taking in huge mountain chains comparable to the Alps and shallow plains that support several fisheries.

Odd Aksel Bergstad of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway said they discovered 1,000 species in an area between Iceland and the Azores and suspects at least 40 are new to science.

“We were surprised to find so many big animals,” he said from Oslo, referring to large squid and fish species.

“That’s not so common anymore. We thought we were getting to the level of knowledge that we wouldn’t find so many.”

Of the close to 700 crustaceans found to the southeastern Atlantic, 99 per cent are thought to be new discoveries.

At up to 3,000 meters down, researchers found nine species of a slimey, gelatinous octopod commonly referred to Dumbo because of its large ear-like fins. One measured two meters, while another may never have been seen before.

They also found a new species of sea cucumber around the Crozet Islands, a sub-Antarctic archipelago of small islands in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We have a more complete picture now of the deep-water habitats,” Bergeron said.

Some of the species lived in frigid waters of 2 degrees C and fed on meagre droppings from the water’s surface far above, bacteria and the bones of dead whales.

At such depths and being so remote, Snelgrove assumed they would find little evidence of human impacts on habitat and ecology. But even at 4,000 meters he said they detected the effects of climate change through warming temperatures and a depletion of food sources.

“I always tended to think of the deep sea as being invulnerable to human activity,” he said. “And we’re starting to see more and more evidence now that in fact there is significant impact of deep-water fishing and ocean acidification.”

Bergeron said the growing understanding of what exists in the world’s deep seas should inform governments and marine “managers“ of what needs to be done to protect the areas.

Some regions with fragile corals and seamounts in the North Atlantic have been closed to bottom fisheries, but he says more should be deemed off limits to destructive fishing and oil industry practices.

The 10-year census is cataloguing the ocean’s marine species, diversity and distribution, and plans to wrap up in October 2010. Using deep-towed cameras, it has so far documented 17,600 species known to live in darker waters.

See also here.

Photos are here.

A preview of the Census of Marine Life has revealed that the project has discovered over 5,000 new species: here.

Census of Marine Life Biased Towards Cephalopods? Here.

The Census of Marine Life: The richest areas of the ocean: here.

Recent new species discoveries: here.

It’s not even a true animal, but the humble sea sponge has shocked scientists with its complexity: here.

Deep sea life: here.

Dumbo octopuses are so named for their likeness to the Disney elephant character. They live deep down in the ocean and and can be found at depths ranging from 400 metres down to as much as 4,800 metres. They hover a short distance above the sea bed while they look for prey. Eighteen species of dumbo octopuses have so far been discovered: here.

A global survey reveals how 5% of the ocean floor is covered by seamounts, an unexplored marine habitat equivalent in size to the world’s tropical dry forest: here.

3 thoughts on “Many new marine animal species discovered

  1. Sea Sponge Facts

    If you were thinking you could compare sea sponges to plants and weeds here and weeds there in the sea, you might be a tiny bit mistaken as they aren’t plants at all. Here are some sea sponge facts for kids and adults.

    Sea sponges are one of the most interesting creatures to study about in the field of marine biology. One of the basic sea sponge facts is that sea sponges are very basic and primordial animals. They are either soft or hard, invertebrate, lacking a brain (no burden of thought), lacking organs and a digestive system (so no tummy trouble) – no heart, eyes, mouth, bones, ears and the like. They’ve lived on earth since around 500 million years and are often found aplenty on coral reefs!

    What are They Made of?

    Sea sponge facts about their body are peculiar too as they don’t move and cannot escape predators. Their bodies are made of two layers and a jelly-like layer in between called mesohyl. They make spiny or bristly structures called spicules, made out of a mesh of protein, spongil and calcium carbonate, as defense against predators.

    What do They Eat and How?

    One of the interesting sea sponge facts is about their eating. These incredibly colored sea sponges place themselves under water in such a way so that they have a solid base to hold and grow on to and an abundant supply of food. But what do they eat? And how do they eat it? As your bathroom sponge has holes, so does a sea sponge. These holes or pores that are known as ostia. They usually simply filter the water of the ocean or sea by breathing in and out of these pores and take in any bacteria, plankton that would serve as food, and oxygen through the neatly divided canals. The quantities of water that passes through in a day is gargantuan – about 20,000 times its own volume. So a few sea sponges, could possibly filter a sea within a day. Some sea sponges have become carnivorous due to lack of the food they would eat otherwise. They come from the family Cladorhizidae. These carnivorous sponges feed on tiny crustaceans.

    Girl or Boy?

    One of the sea sponge facts is that you cannot tell which one of them would rather the color blue and which one pink. As they are hermaphrodites which means they can have the characteristics of both male and female. The sea sponges release their sperm in the water to float in the sea currents. If they are then absorbed by another sea sponge by way if its collar cells, the fertilization takes place inside the sponge and the larvae that are expelled into the water. These have cilia or tiny hair in order to propel themselves and finally find a good place on the sea floor, conducive for their growth. Some sea sponges are asexual and produce gemmules and bud, break off to and settle elsewhere to form a clone of their parent.


    Another one of the sea sponge facts is that if you were to break a sea sponge into two, underwater, its cells would reconstruct themselves and bring it back together.

    Sponging Away Some Diseases

    Sea sponges have as much iodine in them as a liter of sea water would have, which makes them, since the olden days in the time of the Greeks, the Romans and the Middle ages, useful for medicinal purposes. Iodine has an antiseptic and antibacterial effect on wounds and scars and so the sea sponges were used extensively for their cure. Scientists have taken to researching the sea sponge for anti-cancer properties. They are also used in making drugs for asthma.

    The different types of sponges are the Tube Sponge, Vase Sponge, Yellow Sponge, Red Tree Sponge, Common Sea Squirt and Painted Tunicate.

    Yet another one of the sea sponge facts is that dolphins have been known to use sea sponges in order to hunt for fish that hide in the floor of the sea and in order to protect their noses whilst doing so. Sea sponges will continue to populate the world longer than the human race will, so they aren’t about to throw in the sponge just yet!

    By Madhura Panse
    Published: 1/13/2011


  2. Pingback: Underwater photography and overfishing | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Swordfish victims of overfishing | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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