Deep-Sea Survey Finds Amazing Animals

Posted on May 12, 2006

Gelatinous ZooplanktonLiveScience reports that a deep-sea survey in the Bermuda Triangle has turned up some amazing life forms. Some of the animals found include "tiny zooplankton, shrimp-like things, little squid, bizarre worms and pulsing jellyfish." The image on the right is of a gelatinous zooplankton called Thalassocalyce.
The expedition has provided a new understanding of the diversity of gelatinous zooplankton, which the researchers describe as "the gooiest, stickiest, and most transparently fragile animals of the sea." They are rarely captured without being destroyed.

Researchers want to know what's down there and what the various species are like. This will help them better understand the food chain and also gauge ocean health with similar surveys in the future. Hundreds of the captured critters were analyzed onboard the research ship using DNA barcode technology, which reveals differences in species.

The cruise was part of a larger project to make a global inventory of zooplankton by 2010. It's called the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ).

"We are just starting to realize how little we know about species variety," said Ann Bucklin, a University of Connecticut marine scientist who leads CMarZ. "We used to think we knew many species well, but the advent of DNA barcoding has radically altered that perception. Genetically distinctive species of zooplankton are being found with increasing frequency."
1,000 different creatures were discovered including some that may be new to science. LiveScience has a gallery of pictures of some of the underwater life.

Photo: L. Madin, NOAA, Census of Marine Life, 2006

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