Strange creature among 100 potential species discovered

Strange creature among 100 potential species discovered

Ocean Census estimated that of 2.2m species in Earth’s oceans, only 240,000 have been described by scientists

This image released on March 10, 2024, shows a newly discovered starlike creature off the coast of New Zealand. — Ocean Census website

A team of Marine researchers has reported discovering around 100 potential new species off the coast of New Zealand after spending weeks on a vessel looking for new lives inside the deep sea.

One of the baffling discoveries was a starlike creature.

“It is still a mystery. We can’t even describe it to family. We don’t know where it is in the tree [of life] as of yet, so that’ll be interesting,” Daniel Moore, expedition science manager of Ocean Census, said.

The search was carried out on a 500-mile (800-kilometer) long Bounty Trough, east of South Island which was partially explored earlier. While searching for new species, they also found an astonishing star-like creature in February.

Dr Moore said: “You’ve got this big area off the east coast of New Zealand where there’s just an absolutely paucity of data points. We don’t know anything about it.”

The manager of the new alliance — launched in April last year — said that it was true “exploration, very exciting.”

Ocean Census is focused on identifying 100,000 unknown species in the next 10 years.

The team of researchers went as deep as three miles into the sea to look for new species of fish, squid, mollusk, and coral. They are yet to confirm the findings of species as new.

One finding surprised scientists which they initially “considered a type of sea star or sea anemone, calling it a mystery.”

In a statement, a taxonomist at the Queensland Museum Network, Dr Michela Mitchell, said it could be a type of deep-sea coral called octocoral.

She said: “Even more excitingly, it could be a whole new group outside of the octocoral. If it is, that is a significant find for the deep sea and gives us a much clearer picture of the planet’s unique biodiversity.”

According to Moore, he was surprised that the team found a new species of fish known as an eelpout that was “instantly recognised as being different to the others.”

He stated: “Finding new vertebrates is rare. There are hundreds of thousands of invertebrates in the sea that we still don’t know. Vertebrates, we like to think that we know what’s out there, but the reality is, we just don’t.”

Scientists believe there is a gap existing in understanding the scientific knowledge about the oceans.

Ocean Census estimated that of the 2.2 million species in Earth’s oceans, only 240,000 have been described by scientists.

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