Sunday, July 11, 2010

Scientists Find Surprises in Deep Atlantic Ocean

I love articles like this and I love them even more when there are loads of great pictures.  This one certainly doesn't disappoint.

Scientists from 17 nations recently embarked on a six-week expedition aboard the British research vessel the James Cook to explore a never-before-seen area of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.  Some expected to see nothing.  All were amazed that they were able to bring back photographs of an area that is teeming with life.

The scientists focused on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.  It is a massive undersea mountain range that splits the ocean in half, dividing the east Atlantic from the west Atlantic.  The seascape is apparently similar to the American West featuring rocky outcroppings, sheer cliffs and flat open plains.  The critters that live there, however, are nothing like the rattlesnakes, jackrabbits and prairie dogs that inhabit the American West.

There were at least 10 creatures discovered during the expedition that possibly could represent new species.

In dives that lasted as long as 30 hours and went to depths of up to 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) the Isis, a remotely operated vehicle outfitted with 10 high-definition studio-quality cameras and powerful lamps was sent to the ocean floor and took hours of footage of the amazing creatures that live at the bottom of the Atlantic.

They found three new species of enteropneust (a deep sea worm).  The tiny eyeless worms are about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and were previously found only in the Pacific Ocean.  A pink enteropneust was spotted first.  The scientists were thrilled to be able to actually see one of the creatures actually swimming.

Daniel Jones of Britain's National Oceanography Centre said the rocky regions of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge were the most surprising.  There, they found new varieties of sea cucumbers, corals several meters tall that could possibly be a thousand years old and sea lilies.

For more information and to see some of the amazing creatures living in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, check out this article.  There are 10 photographs to be seen.  Click the word "next" and you will be taken to another photo.

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