The charted world of ocean life has gotten slightly bigger as marine scientists have recently discovered 30 new species of invertebrates deep beneath the ocean’s surface surrounding the rocky Galapagos Islands off of the coast of Ecuador.
An international team of marine scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Ocean Exploration Trust probed deep-sea ecosystems at depths of up to 3,400 metres using high-tech remote operated vehicles (ROVs).
Among the newly discovered species are 10 bamboo corals, 11 sponges, four squat lobsters, a brittle star, as well as four octocorals, one of which is the first giant solitary soft coral found in the Tropical Eastern Pacific.
To explore the deep sea, the scientists operated two ROVs from a 64-meter exploration vessel called the E/V Nautilus, which manipulated arms of the unmanned underwater devices to collect biological and geological samples, which were then sent to the surface for identification and analysis.
“The many discoveries made on this expedition showcase the importance of deep-sea exploration to developing an understanding of our oceans and the power of telepresence to build a diverse team of experts,” said Dr. Nicole Raineault, chief scientist of the Ocean Exploration Trust.