Scientists uncovered unknown marine life in the seabed near Antarctica using a remotely operated vehicle to explore deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
New species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones and even an unidentified pale octopus are some of the discoveries done by a team of investigators while exploring the hydrothermal vents of the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean.
The discoveries where made nearly2.400 meters deep into the ocean, in a completely dark area, isolated from sunlight and with temperatures of of up to 382 ºC, around the hydrothermal vents.
Images obtained from the ROV dives show huge colonies of the new species of yeti crab, thought to dominate the Antarctic vent ecosystem, numbers of an undescribed predatory sea-star with seven arms and an unidentified pale octopus.
“Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide,” said Professor Alex Rogers of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, who led the research.
According to the scientists, hydrothermal vents and their communities of organisms have become important models for understanding the origins and limits of life as well as evolution in the deep ocean.
The discovery, which was published in PLoS Biology science journal, provides information on this new ecosystem that suggests that the environmental conditions of the Southern Ocean may act as a barrier to some vent animals.