We sometimes consider outer space to be the final frontier but in reality, we may just know more about space than we do our own planet. That is, of course, if you’re talking about the part of our planet under the water.
It is difficult to get down to the parts of the ocean that are exceedingly deep. There are also many sea creatures that have yet to be discovered, but that number is reduced thanks to an English expedition in the Pacific.
According to a research paper published in the journal Current Biology, that expedition found over 5,000 previously undiscovered marine species. It included unusual shellfish, sponges, worms, sea cucumbers, and various invertebrates.
Scientists were examining the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) when they discovered the creatures. That is an area between Mexico and Hawaii and covers approximately 4,000,000 mi.².
How many species are found in the Pacific Abyss? Our new paper says >6000 and less than 500 have names. Lots of taxonomy to do! With @MurielRabone @adrg1 @helena_wiklund @LupitaBribiesc1 @bokamero @DanielOBJones @mucofloris @NOCnews @NHM_Sciencehttps://t.co/WgmK5nieit
— DiscoveryCollections (@tammy_horton) May 25, 2023
According to the Digital Courier, one of the team members, Muriel Rabone, said there were some remarkable species down there. They spoke about sponges that look like classic bath sponges and others that look like vases.
One of the favorites for Rabone was a glass sponge. He described it as having little spines and looking like chandeliers or sculptures under a microscope.
The size of the CCZ is immense, being almost as large as Australia. It is also in line for future deep-sea mining, so they are looking at the diversity of creatures to see what is at risk.
5,578 different species have been found in that region, up to 92% of which have never been found before. The Royal Research Ship, James Cook, was on expedition when those species were collected.
A remote control robot would travel across the ocean floor, picking up any samples it could. When they brought the simple boxes with samples to the surface, they found new species in almost every core sample.
Interestingly, only six out of the creatures have been found in other parts of the planet. This may be one of the most unique ecosystems that exists.