The Inertia

An expedition to the Bounty Trough off of New Zealand has returned with an unprecedented number of new or potentially new ocean species.

The voyage, led by Ocean Census, was made by a team of scientists from The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census Alliance, New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and experts from the UK and Australia. Together, they collected almost 1,800 samples from as deep as 15,000 feet underwater along the nearly 500-mile Bounty Trough.

“It looks like we have a great haul of new, undiscovered species. By the time all our specimens are examined, we will be north of 100 new species,” said Ocean Census science director Professor Alex Rogers. “But what’s really surprised me here is the fact this extends to animals like fish – we think we’ve got three new species of fish.”

As Radio New Zealand reports, the team will spend the next three weeks sorting and describing the collected specimens. Among the new species discovered are dozens of mollusks, three fish, a shrimp, a cephalopod and a new genera of coral.

However, perhaps the most incredible finding is an animal that so far has completely stumped scientists.

“We’ve got a lot of experts here, having a look, who are very excited. We now think it could be a new species of octocoral, but also a new genus,” said Queensland Museum Network Taxonomist Dr. Michela Mitchell

“Even more excitingly, it could be a whole new group outside of the octocoral. If it is, that is a significant find for the deep sea and gives us a much clearer picture of the planet’s unique biodiversity,” she added.


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