A ship sailed to the end of the world and discovered 100 new life forms


The depths of the oceans and outer space are more similar than one might think at first glance: humans know little about them and they are brutally inhospitable to animals of the primate group. If you try to explore space without proper protection, breathing will become a problem. Of course, the same thing happens in the ocean, but for different reasons.

Although these extreme places share dangerous similarities, each contains a well of science waiting to be discovered. While multi-million-dollar instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope tell us new things about our world, ocean expeditions like the Schmidt Oceanic Institute's (SOI) “Southeast Pacific Seamounts” are rewriting the story we think we know about our oceans.

During the month-long expedition, which lasted from January 8 to February 11, the SOI Falkor research rover (also) explored Three major regions in the Southeast Pacific Ocean. After mapping about 20,400 square miles of ocean, the team — led by Javier Silanes, a biologist at Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile — estimates that more than 100 new marine species have been discovered.

One of the expedition's main targets was the Nazca Hills and Salas y Gomez, which contain a chain of 200 seamounts extending about 2,900 kilometers from Chile to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The expedition also entered the marine parks of Juan Fernández and Nazca Desventuradas. Although these parks are protected, the amazing biodiversity of the Nazca Hills and Salas y Gomez can help protect this stretch of ocean.

Valcor (also) is basically A floating scientific research center With multiple laboratories, acoustic sensors, multi-beam echosounder arrays and, most importantly, an underwater robot capable of descending to a depth of about 3.2 kilometers below the surface. While examining 10 seamounts, scientists discovered that each contains unique ecosystems, from “deep-sea coral reefs to sponge gardens.” According to the SOI press release. In these ecosystems, scientists have discovered new species of scrawny lobsters, glass sponges, sea urchins, amphipods, etc.

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“It is always expected to find new species in these remote and little-explored areas, but the amount we have found, especially for some groups like sponges, is astonishing,” Silanis said in the press release. “These thriving, healthy ecosystems indicate that Nazca-Desventuradas and Juan Fernández Marine Parks are effectively protecting sensitive marine habitats.”

Animals weren't the only thing on Falkor's list of accomplishments (either) for this expedition. The ship also encountered four previously undiscovered seamounts, including one more than three kilometers high. The mountain got the name “Soleto”.

The Valcor will (also) embark on a second expedition on February 24, and if the previous voyage is any indication, who knows what it will discover.

Darren lives in Portland, has a cat, and writes/edits about science fiction and how our world works. You can find his previous stuff at Gizmodo and Paste if you look hard enough.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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