Photos show never-before-seen sea creatures living in an underwater mountain that dwarfs the Himalayas – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Photos show never-before-seen sea creatures living in an underwater mountain that dwarfs the Himalayas

A squat lobster was spotted in coral during a Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

An ocean expedition revealed 100 never-before-seen sea creatures in underwater mountains near Chile. Some of the animals may be new species and include sponges, crustaceans, and mollusks. Scientists hope the region’s rich diversity can be conserved.

Much of the ocean is still a mystery, so often when a camera goes deep enough, it finds something new or unusual.

That was certainly the case during a recent Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition. Led by Javier Sellanes, a team of scientists explored seamounts along the Nazca and Salas y Gómez Ridge near Chile.

The underwater mountains run about 1,800 miles, longer than the Himalayas. Its tallest peak is over 2 miles high, around 800 feet shorter than Japan’s Mount Fuji.

Equipped with a 4K camera, a remotely operated vehicle explored the seafloor nearly 3 miles below the water’s surface. In addition to capturing video and images, the robot collected samples. The scientists think they potentially found more than 100 unknown species.

“Imagine if this is the only place in the world where such species are found,” Schmidt’s Executive Director, Jyotika Virmani, told Business Insider. “Then you would want to protect that.”

The researchers are hoping the area’s diversity will help designate it as a marine protected area to help conserve the unique ecosystem, according to a press release.

Here are some of the weird and wild sealife the scientists uncovered in the depths.

A delicate-looking sponge

Researchers believe the Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition may have found over 100 new species.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

“Most of the seafloor is still unknown to us,” Virmani said, with only about 25% of it mapped in detail. This expedition mapped 20,377 square miles of the region’s seafloor.

Some of the potential new species the scientists found include sponges, coral, crustaceans, and mollusks.

A whiplash squid

Some of the suspected new species include sponges, coral, crustaceans, and mollusks.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

One goal of the expedition and future ones will be to explore how the underwater mountains affect how these species, like this squid, are distributed.

The ocean circulation could be different in certain areas, Virmani said, “So you might have different nutrients or different temperatures.” That could make one side of the mountain look very different from the other.

A bright red sea toad or coffinfish

The Chaunacops coloratus is often known as a sea toad or coffinfish.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

In addition to spotting plants and animals like the Chaunacops coloratus, a vibrant fish sometimes found in Hawaii, the expedition also discovered four unknown seamounts.

“Some of these seamounts had never been mapped before,” Virmani said. “So we didn’t even know what shapes they were.”

A coral spiral

The ROV found a spiraling coral in the Mar de Juan Fernández Marine Protected Area off the coast of central Chile.

ROV SuBastian / Schmidt Ocean Institute

Some corals grow in spirals. Throughout the world, corals are under threat from the climate crisis.

This whole region is vulnerable, Virmani said. It’s biologically active and a target for fishing, and it’s minerally rich, making it attractive to deep-sea miners.

“There are these stresses that may be impacting the ecosystems that are there,” Virmani said, “and so we need to really understand and see what’s happening down there.”

Pretty sea urchins

These sea urchins appear to be members of the Dermechinus horridus species.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

The Schmidt livestreams its expeditions. “Anyone in the living room anywhere in the world, if you have an internet connection, can watch on YouTube as this exploration is happening live,” Virmani said.

It also allows other scientists to offer their expertise from home. A marine biologist was able to help identify this cluster of sea urchins as the species Dermechinus horridus.

The samples are back at the lab

It’s too soon to know for sure if any of the species are completely new to science.

Alex Ingle/Schmidt Ocean Institute

The scientists can’t determine a new species based on photos and videos alone.

“That work will take place in a lab environment where they’ll do some more in-depth study to confirm that these are new species,” Virmani said.

A squat lobster

Researchers are eager to understand the breadth of the biological diversity at the seamounts near Chile.

ROV SuBastian/Schmidt Ocean Institute

Enthusiasts hoping to get a peek at more deep-sea creatures will have a chance starting February 24. The Schmidt Ocean Institute, started by Wendy Schmidt and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, will launch another expedition with the Research Vessel Falkor (too).

The organization will livestream underwater dives on its YouTube channel, exploring areas nearly 2,000 feet beneath the waves.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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