London: Scientists have discovered 17,000
exotic new species in a decade-long exploration which has also
revealed their alien ways to eke out a living in the perpetual
darkness of the deep ocean.
Among the species, discovered by an international team
of over 300 scientists from 34 nations, are sea angels, jewel
squid, helmet jellies and a two-metre-wide octopod that flies
with ear-like fins, `The Times` reported.
For example, the octopod, nicknamed the "Jumbo Dumbo"
for its passing resemblance to fictional flying elephant, was
found during an expedition to mid-Atlantic ridge this year.
Odd Aksel Bergstad of the University of Bergen,
the leader of that cruise, said: "If it came up in a trawl it
would just be a lump of jelly, but photograph it from a
submersible, and it`s very beautiful and graceful.
"We know very little about how they live. They`re
predators but we don`t know what they feed on or how they
reproduce. At least one of the nine kinds we found is probably
a new species.
"Because it provides an oasis of topographical relief
in the centre of the ocean, we found a high concentration of
animals on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge."
The expedition -- some 200 cruises -- undertaken to
explore the deep ocean for the International Census of Marine
Life also yielded more than 680 specimens of fly-like copepod,
only seven of which could be identified.
"New species aren`t news for deep-ocean scientists,
they`re a problem. The figure of 17,000 species is just what`s
made the logbooks, it`s what we can deal with. If you want the
real figure you can multiply that by a hundred or a thousand,"
said Robert Carney of Louisiana State University, one of the
leaders of the census.