Over 17,000 exotic new marine species 'discovered'

Over 17,000 exotic new marine species `discovered` 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.

Bureau Report