Researchers Discover Unknown Rare Species
Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California, San Diego
On an expedition in 2010 off Costa Rica researchers found and explored an amazing new discovery in the deep sea, Earth’s largest ecosystem. Explorers examined the extremely rare find, two habitat types intersecting in one place which are at juncture where hot and cold habitats collide. These hot spots which exist below in the depths of the deep sea are known as hydrothermal vent systems where hot water surges out from the seafloor. In this environment cold areas also exist where methane rises from “seeps” on the ocean bottom.
Fascinating details from the expedition are published in a study led by Lisa Levin of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. You can locate the scientists’ findings, including a large number of mysterious, undescribed species in the March 7 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences).
A ‘foundation’ species of tubeworm found in hot vents and cold seeps. Photo credit: Greg Rouse
“The most interesting aspects of this site are the presence of vent-like and seep-like features together,” said Levin, “along with a vast cover of tubeworms over large areas and a wealth of new, undescribed species.”
Since so very little is known about the deep sea ocean, it is believed that much of this ecosystem remains undiscovered according to researchers, possibly leaving many of the various marine life species to be documented that are able to sustain life in an environment only of its kind.
“There are plenty of surprises left in the deep sea,” said Levin, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.
Submersible Alvin was utilized as a main contributor to the team’s discovery as the eye under the sea of which revealed thousands of tube worms as the team also documented many fish, mussels, clam beds and high densities of crabs. “Not only are there new species but there are almost certainly new communities and ecosystems to be discovered,” Levin said.
Jaco Scar is known to be at the Costa Rica margin and has been scarcely ever visited, however, the team investigated the geochemical properties at the site and surprisingly unveiled one of the most interesting biodiversity hot spots on the planet within this remote area where an underwater mountain is moving under a tectonic plate, also with many rare small organisms, microbes, and co-existing animals.
Many thanks to Lisa Levin and her colleagues, the Coauthors of the paper which also include; Greg Rouse, Geoffrey Cook and Ben Grupe of Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Victoria Orphan and Grayson Chadwick of the California Institute of Technology; Anthony Rathburn of Indiana State University; William Ussler III of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; Shana Goffredi of Occidental College; Elena Perez of the Natural History Museum in London; Anders Waren of the Swedish Museum of Natural History; and Bruce Strickrott of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
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