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Over 100 Never-Before-Seen Species Discovered Along Deep Sea Mountain Range

Utsav Srinet

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Researchers from the Schmidt Ocean Institute recorded footage up to 4500 meters deep near the Nazca and Salas y Gómez ridges, which together stretch more than 3000 kilometers. Along with the variety of new organisms—including sponges, amphipods, urchins, crustaceans, and corals—the team mapped four seamounts in Chilean waters that were previously unknown to scientists, they report today in a press release. The tallest of these measured 3530 meters from sea floor to peak and was unofficially named Solito by the researchers.

Parts of these seamounts owe their extensive biodiversity largely to their status as protected marine parks, the researchers note. Large stretches of the region are protected by the Juan Fernández and Nazca-Desventuradas marine parks, administered by Chile. In addition to photographs, the robot also captured some of these deep-sea denizens, which will be used to identify their species or classify them as new ones. The new species could help scientists learn more about the broader region’s intricate lineages, as well as the evolutionary twists and turns that shaped them.

The discoveries come from an international group of scientists who recently explored the seamounts along the Nazca and Salas y Gómez Ridge, a 2,900-kilometer (1,800-mile) long chain of underwater mountains that stretches from offshore Chile to Rapa Nui, aka Easter Island.

Led by Dr Javier Sellanes of the Universidad Católica del Norte, the scientists used an underwater robot to cruise to depths of 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) below sea level and collect data from 10 of the 200 seamounts.

A seamount is an underwater mountain with steep sides that are typically the remnants of extinct volcanoes. These fascinating features often become hives of biodiversity since they provide wildlife with a solid surface to live upon, supplying them with food and nutrients.

Source: https://curbearth.com/over-100-never-before-seen-species-discovered-along-deep-sea-mountain-range/

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