Deep-sea creatures discovered near the Antarctic
May 16, 2007
Scientists have found hundreds of new marine creatures in the depths of the Weddell Sea near Antarctica, including Carnivorous sponges, free-swimming worms, crustaceans, and mollusks, reports research published in the current issue of the journal Nature.
The researchers say that the deep-sea biodiversity of the Southern Ocean is “likely to be related to animals living in both the adjacent shallower waters and in other parts of the deep ocean,” suggesting that “the glacial cycle of advance and retreat of ice led to an intermingling of species that originated in shallow and deep water habitats.”
“The Antarctic deep sea is potentially the cradle of life of the global marine species,” said lead author Professor Angelika Brandt from the Zoological Institute and Zoological Museum, University Hamburg. Our research results challenge suggestions that the deep sea diversity in the Southern Ocean is poor. We now have a better understanding in the evolution of the marine species and how they can adapt to changes in climate and environments.”
“What was once thought to be a featureless abyss is in fact a dynamic, variable and biologically rich environment. Finding this extraordinary treasure trove of marine life is our first step to understanding the complex relationships between the deep ocean and distribution of marine life,” added Dr Katrin Linse, marine biologist from British Antarctic Survey.
Three research expeditions, as part of the ANDEEP project (Antarctic benthic deep-sea biodiversity), found over 700 new species between 2002 and 2005.