Scientists discover dozens of new species in the Pacific

0

Thirty new marine species have been discovered by an English and Hawaiian scientific expedition in the Clarion-Clipperton area in the Pacific.

Gummy squirrel (“Psychropotes longicauda”) at 5100 m depth on abyssal sediments in the Western CCZ. This animal is about 60 cm long (including the tail), with red feeding palps (or “lips”) visibly extending from its anterior (right) end.
Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

The area is a geological submarine fracture measuring 7240 km covering 5 million square kilometers between Mexico and Hawaii. Within the area is the uninhabited island of Clipperton which is part of France.

The Natural History Museum in London reports that the expedition, named DeepCCZ, found a range of extremely rare microfauna ranging from starfish to sea cucumbers living on the seabed.

Scientists collected 55 specimens, including 48 different species.

The species was discovered using a remote-controlled vehicle.

The head of the museum’s deep-sea research group, Adrian Glover, told the Museum of Natural History that there’s a good chance the megafauna are much more diverse.

“However, we never really had much information about the larger animals that we call megafauna because so few samples were collected.

“This study is the first to suggest that diversity may also be high in these groups.”

A newly discovered species of worm from APEI-4 and unknown to science, this species will be given a description and a name.

A newly discovered species of worm from APEI-4 and unknown to science, this species will be given a description and a name.
Photo: Partners DeepCCZ University of H

The objective of the mission was to understand the effects of deep sea mining on the ecosystem of the Clarion-Clipperton area.

The Clarion-Clipperton zone is rich in minerals such as cobalt, nickel, magnesium and copper which are found in manganese nodules.

It is administered by the International Seabed Authority and divided into 16 deep-sea mining concessions.

Nodules are mineral concretions at the bottom of the sea formed by concentric layers of iron.

Their size can vary from tiny particles to the size of a piece of potato, attracting great economic interest for seabed mining companies.

It is believed that these metals are more common in the seabed than on land.

Manganese nodules: the size of large potatoes, they are tens of millions of years old.

Manganese nodules: the size of large potatoes, they are tens of millions of years old.
Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Challenges in determining the new species

The lead author of a new study revealing this previously unknown diversity, Guadalupe Bribiesca-Contreras, told the Natural History Museum that there were many challenges when identifying the new species.

“We thought some of the species we found were cosmopolitan, living in large areas of the ocean, but upon closer examination of their DNA we discovered that they were different species, possibly restricted to smaller habitats.

“There probably aren’t enough samples yet to fully understand the variation within them.

“Older deep-sea specimens are often damaged because they were collected by less gentle methods such as trawling,” Bribiesca-Contreras said.

“For example, brittlestars have delicate arms that are often broken, like those collected during the Challenger expedition.

“This is a problem because these individuals are often used as type specimens. If characteristics are missing when comparing two similar animals, it is difficult to tell whether it is because they were lost during collection or because it is a different species.

“Many older specimens have also been placed directly into a formalin preservative, which makes DNA extraction difficult.”

The museum’s deep-sea research team hopes to overcome some of these difficulties by comparing these specimens to megafauna collected on a recent trip, with larger-scale image surveys.

The team also hopes to build a picture of the deep sea to inform important decisions that will affect the path of the Green Revolution.

They intend to continue building a picture of the deep sea to inform important decisions that will affect the path of the Green Revolution.

Share.

Comments are closed.