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deep sea

New Species Discovered in Atlantic Ocean

July 21, 2010 03:00 PM
by Colleen Brondou
The coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the area between Iceland and the Azores, is teeming with marine life previously unknown to scientists.

Deep-Sea Expeditions Reveal New Life Forms

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July has been an important month for deep-sea exploration: Two expeditions in the Atlantic Ocean have uncovered new forms of previously unknown marine life.

On July 3, the MAR-ECO project, part of the Census of Marine Life, completed the last leg of its survey of the waters in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an area between Iceland and the Azores. The team collected samples of more than 10 potentially new species, as well as species that were thought to be rare, Global Adventures reports.

Some of the strange deep-sea creatures discovered included basket stars (cousins of the starfish), swimming sea cucumbers, “living fossils” and electric blue worms. National Geographic offers photos of these mysterious new marine life forms.

Meanwhile, a team of Spanish and Canadian researchers surveying the deep waters off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador has also discovered new marine species. While trying to protect the coral in the area—the so-called “trees of the oceans,” Giuseppe Valiante writes for Postmedia News—the researchers discovered at least two new species of coral and six sponges.

Background: Other recent discoveries

Last summer, a smelly blackish goo was found floating off the coast of Wainwright, Alaska. Some speculated that it was a new type of algae.

In 2009, researchers from Texas A&M University found a 4,265-year-old coral species off the Hawaiian coast. Based on carbon dating technology, the coral was determined to be among the oldest on Earth.

A new frogfish with psychedelic markings was also found last year. Histiophryne psychedelica has beige and peach stripes swirling around its body and was found off the coast of Indonesia.

Ten new amphibians, including an orange rain frog, three poisonous frogs and three varities of “glass frog” with transparent skin were found in Colombia, also in 2009. The discoveries were made during a three-week journey to the mountainous Tacarcuna area of the Darien, near the border with Panama, by researchers from Conservation International and Ecotropica Foundation.

In 2008, a tiny new species of snake was discovered in Barbados. U.S. scientist S. Blair Hedges stumbled upon the slithery creature beneath a rock in the easternmost Caribbean island. Hedges named the snake “Leptotyphlops carlae” after his herpetologist wife, Carla Ann Hass. He thinks his discovery is the smallest that snakes get.

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