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More new species discovered in Antartica

Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents.
One of the newly discovered species is an octopus
British Antarctic Survey  |  'Lost world' discovered around Antarctic vents    |   01-04-2012

These findings are yet more evidence of the precious diversity to be found throughout the world’s oceans. Everywhere we look, whether it is in the sunlit coral reefs of tropical waters or these Antarctic vents shrouded in eternal darkness, we find unique ecosystems that we need to understand and protect.

—Professor Alex Rogers, Oxford University’s Department of Zoology

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean, where hydrothermal vents, create a unique environment that lacks sunlight, but is rich in certain chemicals.

The discoveries include new species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones and an octopusI. The ROV also brought back images of huge colonies of the new species of yeti crab, thought to dominate the Antarctic vent ecosystem, clustered around vent chimneys.

Elsewhere the ROV spotted numbers of an undescribed predatory sea-star with seven arms crawling across fields of stalked barnacles.

It also found an unidentified pale octopus, nearly 2,400 metres down, on the seafloor.

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