Scientists have discovered more than 5,000 new species living on the seabed in an untouched area of the Pacific Ocean. Published in the journal Current Biology, it includes 5,578 different species, of which an estimated 88% to 92% had never before been seen.
It is the first time the previously unknown biodiversity of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a mineral-rich area of the ocean floor that spans 1.7m sq miles between Hawaii and Mexico in the Pacific, has been comprehensively documented.
Most of the animals identified by researchers exploring the zone are new to science, and almost all are unique to the region: only six, including a carnivorous sponge and a sea cucumber, have been seen elsewhere.
The scientists watch operations by video link direct from the boat, as new species are gathered by remote operating vehicles in the darkness below.
Dr. Glover, a deep-sea biologist at the NHM said the seabed is an “amazing place” where, despite the extreme cold and dark, life thrives. “One of the characteristics of the abyssal plane is the lack of food, but life has a way of persisting down there,” he said.
“It’s a mystery.”