New marine species discovered off Bermuda
More than 100 new marine species have been discovered during a deep sea exploration off the coast of Bermuda.
The findings of the Nekton Mission I, XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey were presented to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, today.
Alex Rogers, scientific director of the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute and Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Oxford said: “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.
“These discoveries are evidence of how little we know and how important it is to document this unknown frontier to ensure that its future is protected.”
The discoveries included small animals, such as tanaids, to dozens of new algae species and black wire coral that stand up to two metres high.
Gardens of twisted wire corals and sea fans were found on the slopes of the Plantagenet Seamount, locally known as ‘Argus’, just off the coast of Bermuda.
There were also communities of sea urchins, green moray eels, yellow hermit crabs and other mobile fauna feeding off zooplankton and algae drifting off the summit and settling on the deep seabed.
The exploration of the deep ocean off the coast of Bermuda began in the summer of 2016.
Scientists from more than a dozen marine research institutes teamed up to analyse 40,000 specimens and samples, as well as 15,000 litres of water samples, since September 2016.
The XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey documented the deepest recorded evidence of lionfish globally which reveals the spread of the invasive species is greater than at first thought.
The first peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published from the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey and the complete results are expected to be published by September.
Patrick Tannock, CEO of XL Bermuda Ltd/Insurance and chairman of XL Catlin’s philanthropic foundation, which funded the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey, added: “As a future-focused, innovative insurance and reinsurance company, we at XL Catlin believe that preparing for emerging and unknown risks is imperative.
“Given that there is still much to be learnt about how changes to the ocean will impact businesses, communities and society in the future, we are extremely interested in the findings from the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey and look forward to receiving the published report of the amalgamated results and scientific papers.”