The Galapagos Islands are famous for several endemic species that evolved to fit the exact niche required to live on rocky islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Now, marine scientists have found 30 new species deep beneath the ocean’s surface around the islands.
An international team of marine scientists explored deep-sea ecosystems at depths of up to 3,400 metres using high-tech remote operated vehicles (ROVs). Among the newly discovered species are 10 bamboo corals, 11 sponges, four squat lobsters, a brittle star, as well as four octocorals, one of which is the first giant solitary soft coral found in the Tropical Eastern Pacific.
“The many discoveries made on this expedition showcase the importance of deep-sea exploration to developing an understanding of our oceans and the power of telepresence to build a diverse team of experts,” Dr. Nicole Raineault, chief scientist of the Ocean Exploration Trust, said in a press release. “Since we never know what we’re going to find, we utilize land-based scientists who watch the ROV dives from home and communicate directly with the shipboard team in real time, to help determine what is truly new and worthy of further investigation or sampling. Scientists studying the resulting video, data, and specimens make an astonishing number of discoveries, reminding us how little we know about the deep sea.”
The new deep-sea dwelling creatures will never become as familiar to visitors as more visible endemic species, such as the Galapagos penguin, giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Still, these species hint at the many mysteries dwelling in Earth’s oceans.
Original source: Inhabitat