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.
This discovery confirms the existence of a new ocean zone, rariphotic (rare light) zone which extends 400 to 1,000 feet beneath the surface—sandwiched between two of three other regions defined by their distinct biological communities.
This major breakthrough was defined during a two-year deep ocean survey, organized by British charity for ocean exploration Nekton and led by marine research scientists from Oxford University.
Most of their work was focused on the Bermuda Platform in the North Atlantic, where analysts hoped to identify changing biological, chemical, and physical parameters across a series of ecosystems (including the Gulf Stream).
What they found was even better – 100 new marine species.
“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,” Oxford professor Alex Rogers, scientific director of the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute, said in a statement.
Since September 2016, researchers worked to analyze 40,000 specimens and nearly 4,000 gallons of water samples.
“We have discovered at least 13 new crustacean species, including tanaids, gnathiid isopods, and leptostracans,” according to Mission member Nick Schizas, of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.
“We believe we have discovered dozens of new species of algae, including the deepest-ever record to have had its DNA sequenced,” Trinity College professor and participating scientist Craig Schneider boasted. “Many are recognized for demonstrating a new biogeographical link between Bermuda and the Indo-Pacific.”
Full results from the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey are expected to be published by September; the first of at least 20 scientific papers based on their findings have been released in Nature.