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Deep Ocean Mission Discovers More Than 100 New Marine Species Off Bermuda

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Findings by a network of scientists from 15 research institutes reveal more than 100 marine species that have not yet known before off the Bermuda coast.

The survey conducted by Nekton Mission I, under the XL Caitlin Deep Ocean Survey project, found hundreds of species consisting of minute animals such as tanaids, dozens of new algae, and black wire coral that measures 2 meters high.

The result of the deep sea survey off Bermuda coast was officially received by the Bermuda Government on May 7 through Walton Brown, the country's minister of home affairs.

Rariphotic Zone Off Bermuda

The discovery of the new species happened in the wake of the discovery of the Rariphotic Zone or the "twilight zone," the fourth ocean zone found in the top 3,000 meters of the ocean. The other zones are the Aliphatic zone within 40 meters of the ocean, the Mesophotic zone within 40 meters to 130 meters, and the Bathyal Zone within 300 to 3,000 meters.

The new species found include gardens of interweaving wire corals and sea fans or algal forest on the slopes of the Plantagenet Seamont or what locally known as Argus. There are also species of sea urchins, green moray eels, yellow hermit crabs, and different moving algae as well as small pink and yellow fishes.

"Considering the Bermuda waters have been comparatively well studied for many decades, we certainly weren't expecting such a large number and diversity of new species," says Alex Rogers, scientific director of the Nexton Oxford Deep Research Institute and professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Oxford.

The group will be heading to similar deep-sea missions to the Indian Ocean, Seychelles, the Maldives, Mauritius, Andaman, and Sumatra.

Nekton Mission I, XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey

The initiative involved scientific investigation of ocean function, health, and resilience of the waters found across the Northwest Atlantic. The project, however, is focused primarily on Bermuda.

The purpose is identifying the changing biological, chemical, and physical parameters across a series of ecosystems beneath the Bermuda Platform, an area located to the northwest of Bermuda. The particular spot was formed from remains of a large volcano that existed about 40 million years ago.

The ancient volcano was located at the highest point of the Bermuda Rise that expands 1,500 kilometers long and measuring between 500 kilometers to 1,000 kilometers wide.

The deep ocean exploration started in September of 2016. The team of researchers from various scientific institutions analyzed a total of 40,000 specimens and samples. They also examined 15,000 liters of water samples.

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