A Treasure Trove Of Weird Deep Sea Creatures Discovered In Australian Abyss

Posted: Jun 20 2017, 8:07am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 20 2017, 8:11am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
A Treasure Trove of Weird Species Discovered in Australian Abyss
Seacucumber found in Australia's eastern abyss. Credit: MUSEUMS VICTORIA

Giant sea spiders, blobby sea pigs, zombie worms and other deep sea creatures are found in one of the most unexplored exosystems in the world

While exploring the depths of eastern Australian coast, a team of international researchers have discovered a treasure trove of strange, spineless creatures. The discoveries include giant sea spiders, blob fish, a group of sea pigs, seacucumber, peanut worm and many more bizarre deep sea creatures. Most of them are totally new to science and they are an astonishing reminder of just how little we know about our planet.

The discoveries were made in a dark and cold abyss that plunges 13,200 feet below the ocean surface. Using nets, sonar and deep-sea cameras, researchers have been able to uncover the mysterious life that inhabits the abyss. The region has never been explored until now.

“The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet, covering half the world's oceans and one third of Australia's territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth. We know that abyssal animals have been around for at least 40 million years, but until recently only a handful of samples had been collected from Australia’s abyss.” Dr Tim O’Hara, Museums Victoria’s Senior Curator and a part of the expedition, said in a statement.

The creatures in the abyss live in an extreme environment. There do not get any direct sunlight. Food is scarce and temperatures are also freezing cold. Therefore, animals have evolved highly unique ways to survive there. At such depths, it is so dark that creatures often have no eyes and they have to produce their own light through bioluminescence.

To find the life lurking in the abyss, researchers aboard CSIRO research vessel set sail from Tasmania on May 15. During the month-long voyage, they mapped the seafloor and stumbled across a number of unusual species. The voyage ended on June 16 in Brisbane, Queensland.

“The data gathered on this trip will be crucial to understanding Australia’s deep-sea habitats, their biodiversity and the ecological processes that sustain them. This will assist in its conservation and management and help to protect it from the impacts of climate change, pollution and other human activity.”

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