More than 100 new species found in Deep Sea Canyon off the coast of New Zealand

In a deep canyon that humans had never seen before, scientists discovered at least 100 new marine species, each stranger and more wondrous than the last.

The ocean critters were recently found in the Bounty Trough off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island during a three-week voyage on the research vessel Tangaroa, operated by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

A crew of 21 scientists aboard the Ocean Census expedition recently ventured to this remote patch of the Southern Hemisphere to document new marine species – and their efforts did not disappoint.

Along the 800-kilometer-long Bounty Trough, at depths up to 4,800 meters (15,748 feet), the team collected approximately 1,800 samples. They are still sorting through all the specimens, but they expect to identify more than 100 new species, including dozens of molluscs, three fish, a shrimp, a cephalopod and a new coral genus.

“It appears we have a large number of new, undiscovered species. By the time all our specimens have been examined, we will be north of 100 new species. But what really surprises me here is the fact that this extends to animals like fish – we think we have three new species of fish,” Professor Alex Rogers, co-leader of the expedition and scientific director of Ocean Census, said in a statement. .

Possible new fish species discovered Bounty Trough off the east coast of New Zealand's South Island by NIWA and Ocean Census.

New fish species discovered by the recent expedition.

Image credit: Ocean Census/NIWA

“We went to lots of different habitats and discovered a whole range of new species, from fish to snails, to corals and sea cucumbers – really interesting species that will be new to science,” said Sadie Mills, tour guide. leader and marine biologist at NIWA.

However, not all species can be easily placed in the taxonomic tree of life. One instance proves particularly confusing; members of the team have speculated whether it could be a starfish, a sea anemone, or a zoanthid-like creature, but the creature doesn’t fit into any of these categories.

“We have a lot of experts here who come here very enthusiastically,” explains Dr Michela Mitchell, a taxonomist with the Queensland Museum Network.

“We now think it could be a new species of octocoral, but also a new genus [wider grouping of species]. Even more exciting is that it could be a whole new group outside of the octocoral. If so, it will be an important find for the deep sea and give us a much clearer picture of the planet’s unique biodiversity,” she added.

A new species of comma shrimp, also known as the hooded shrimp, has been discovered near New Zealand

A new species of comma shrimp, also known as the hooded shrimp.

Image credit: Ocean Census/NIWA

It is estimated that 91 percent of ocean species are currently unknown to science, while more than 80 percent of the ocean is unmapped and unexplored. Fortunately, swarms of scientists are working hard to change that.

Ocean Census, founded by the Nippon Foundation of Japan and British group Nekton, has set a goal of documenting 100,000 new species within ten years before they are potentially lost to the many problems facing the world’s oceans, such as pollution , overfishing and climate change.

New genus of black coral discovered in a deep-sea trench in New Zealand.

The researchers think this specimen is a new genus of black coral.

Image credit: Ocean Census/NIWA

Across the Pacific, along the coast of America, the Schmidt Ocean Institute is currently conducting expeditions as part of a larger effort to map the entire seafloor by the end of this decade. Last month, the Schmidt team announced that they had also discovered 100 new marine species.

Don’t worry, it’s not a competition. Both the Schmidt Ocean Institute and NIWA are Ocean Census partners, so all their efforts will be focused on the ultimate goal of 100,000 new species by the end of this decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *