By: April Carson
The investigations of two new marine parks located 2,500 kilometers (about 1,500 miles) off Australia's western coast uncovered some bizarre fish. These included creatures such as those on stilts and even ooze-like animals. Researchers were simply elated to find such interesting creatures in the deep sea.
Museums Victoria senior curator of marine invertebrates Tim O'Hara expected that the expedition scheduled for September 30th, 2022 would result in new discoveries. His colleague, Antonia Cooper from the University of Melbourne, also said that they were "really hoping to find some new and unusual species."
According to O'Hara, the region is covered with massive seamounts from the dinosaur era and holds a significant position between the Pacific and Indian oceans. It is also an area where a lot of tectonic activity takes place.
"This region has never been properly explored before," said O'Hara in a press release. "We have no idea what we will find."
The idea of discovering new species - and perhaps even whole new branches of the tree of life - is very exciting. Until now, they have remained hidden underwater in this unexplored region.
On their way to new marine park territories, researchers observed an abundance of winged fishes casting themselves into the air. These protected areas will conserve 740,000 square kilometers (about 285,000 square miles) of ocean around Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands.
As Yi-Kai Tea, a fish biologist for the Australian Museum Research Institute, explained in a blog post about the voyage, these animals are at risk of being eaten by larger fish and seabirds.
The research vessel (RV) Investigator used sonar to map the seabed over the course of 35 days, discovering ancient sea mountains, volcanoes, canyons and ridges. The extinct volcanoes formed between 140 million and 50 million years ago.
The sonar showed that the Cocos Keeling Islands were two peaks of a gargantuan sea mountain, almost 5,000 meters high. A third peak was also discovered 350 meters below the surface of the water.
The team also found a previously unknown species of coral, as well as a new type of fish.
These discoveries are important because they help us understand the history of our planet and the creatures that live on it. However, they also highlight the importance of conserving these delicate ecosystems.
After sampling habitats with small trawl nets from 60 meters down to a depth of 5,500 below the surface, the crew reported collecting a large treasure trove of species.
O'Hara claims that up to one-third of these These species may turn out to be new discoveries. This includes a previously unknown type of blind cusk eel, whose skin is see-through and gooey.
"These fish have extremely reduced eyes," said Dianne Bray, MV senior collections manager. "In fact, if you take a look at the picture, you'll see that their eyes are like little golden depressions in their skin." She continued: "They've got really loose and flabby skin, plus it's very gelatinous. Frankly, they're incredibly rare."
Other potential new discoveries include a species of anglerfish, a "ghost fish" and a eel-like creature called an "enigma."
The deep-sea batfish is an adorable creature that looks like a bit of limbed, well-cooked ravioli. This odd little creature shuffles its way along the seabed on stubby little fin legs with big 'feet'. It has a 'please love me' expression on its tiny face.
"As Bray explains, these are anglerfish relatives that have a very small lure on their snout. This lure is used to attract prey, and they walk across the floor using modified arms and legs."
Another fish was caught with long and bizarre stilt-like fins, which allowed it to hover just above the seafloor waiting for prey.
These strange and wonderful creatures prove that there is still so much to be discovered in our oceans. Who knows what else is down there, waiting to be found?
Not only did the team find a hermit crab using a deep-sea colonial zoanthid coral as its shell, but they also discovered that these goopy soft corals use materials like sand or bits of other structures to give themselves some support.
Along with plenty of sea stars and snails, many other weird and wonderful creatures live in this underwater region.
Some of these animals are able to withstand the immense pressure and dark waters by producing their own light, a process called bioluminescence.
After the vessel returns to land, the creatures that were collected will be studied by taxonomists. These specialists will use DNA extracted from the animals to identify them or describe new species.
"Australia's deep-sea environments are largely unknown to us, but this voyage will provide unprecedented insight into them. The findings will also help show humanity's impact on these delicate ecosystems," explained MV CEO Lynley Crosswell.
The team aboard the research vessel also found evidence of pollution, including microplastics, in the deep sea.
"It is vital that we understand both the scale of the problem and what needs to be done to mitigate our impact on these unique environments," Crosswell said.
During the voyage, the team also sampled seafloor sediments and took water column measurements.
"The data collected on this voyage will give us a much better understanding of how to manage our deep-sea resources into the future," said Crosswell.
The findings of the voyage will be published in a series of scientific papers.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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