This previously unknown squid was among 80,000deep-sea organisms collected from the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, achain of undersea mountains halfway between Europe and North America.
The species, dubbed Promachoteuthis sloani, wascaught along with around 50 other types of squid during trawls as deepas 1.2 miles (3 kilometers) by a Census of Marine Life team. The team,from the Norwegian-led MAR-ECO program, is investigating life along theworld's ocean mountain ranges.
The new species has unusually small, semi-opaque eyes and large numbersof suckers on its arms. The shape of its beak suggests the squid is apowerful chewer, MAR-ECO researchers say.
While soft-bodied squid are often damaged during deep-sea trawls, theirhard mouthparts are unique to each species and so can be used to helpidentify different species, the team says.
The new specimen has also provided material to help flesh out thephysical descriptions of previously discovered but poorly known relatedspecies, the researchers add.
Around 60,000 of the organisms collected during the Mid-Atlantic Ridgesurvey were fish, which experts are working to document and identify.
Dark Dweller: Antarctic JellyfishDiscovered during a 2006 Census of Marine Life expedition, this specieswas filmed in Antarctic waters that have been kept in darkness forthousands of years by thick ice cover.
Researchers were able to finally shed light on the species—and scoresof other tiny creatures—by suspending an underwater camera down a holedrilled through 2,300 feet (700 meters) of ice.
The diversity of life supported by unlit waters was a big surprise forAntarctic researchers who conducted the survey in the Weddell Sea (interactive Antarctica map).
Census of Marine Life senior scientist Ron O'Dor said the findingsshowed "there are no deserts in the ocean. Everywhere we look, we findevidence of life."
Jurassic ShrimpCensus of Marine Life researchers got a big surprise when they trawled up this "Jurassic shrimp."
The scientists were documenting life on undersea mountains, orseamounts, in the Coral Sea off northeast Australia when they foundthis specimen (Australia map). It belongs to a species thought to have died out some 50 million years ago.
Caught at a depth of 1,300 feet (400 meters), the new species isdescribed as a "living fossil" by survey member Bertrand Richer deForges, a marine biologist based in nearby Noumea, New Caledonia.
Neoglyphea neocaledonica belongs to an ancient group ofcrustaceans that were "well known from the Jurassic and Cretaceousperiods [roughly 200 to 65 million years ago] and were supposed to beextinct," de Forges said.
The find follows the discovery of a related species in Philippine waters in the 1970s.
De Forges compares the new catch to the discovery of a secondspecies of the primitive coelacanth in Indonesia in 1997. Thisso-called fossil fish was first rediscovered off South Africa in 1938,showing it hadn't gone extinct in the Cretaceous period as previouslythought.
Needle in a Haystack—IsopodThe Census of Marine Life's ambitious goal is to document all life inthe oceans, a task made even harder by creatures that are verydifficult to tell apart, such as this little isopod.
Isopod crustaceans include both rare and abundant species. Forcensus researchers, trying to sort out which is which can be likefinding needles in a haystack.
The isopod pictured above was one of these needles, found by a teamsurveying waters around Antarctica. The researchers documented many newisopod species from the thousands of specimens collected. Some specieswere represented by just a single animal.
"The vast expanse of the oceans, the rarity of some animals,their movements and fluctuations challenge census researchers," saidJesse Ausubel, a program manager for the Sloan Foundation, a supporterof the project.
"Happily," she added, "the astonishing progress of the past sixyears [the census began in 2000] shows the community will create thefirst ever Census of Marine Life in 2010."
Furry CrabThe "yeti crab," discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, is soextraordinary that a new taxonomic family had to be invented for it.
The new species was found during a deep-sea dive expedition, some 900 miles (1,500 kilometers) off Easter Island.
Living next to hydrothermal vents at depths of 7,540 feet (2,300 meters), the blind white crustacean, named Kiwa hirsute, was also dubbed the yeti (or abominable snowman) crab because of its hairy arms, which support colonies of yellow bacteria.
Led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute inCalifornia, the dive team speculates that the animal may deliberatelycultivate these bacteria for food or as tiny sensors that help the crabfind food or a mate.
Other researchers suggest the crustacean could use the bacteria to combat toxic fluids that rise from the volcanic vents.
Mineral-eating bacteria thrive on deposits from the vents, saysChris German of the Southampton Oceanography Centre in England. "Showthem a metal sulfide deposit on the seafloor and they think it's asix-course banquet," he joked.
"If you've got things that want to [eat toxic fluids], why not carry abunch of them around with you if you're working in a hazardousenvironment," German added. "They could be your natural safeguards."
Deepest DwellerThe deepest census survey took place more than three miles (fivekilometers) down in the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. There,researchers trawled up more than 500 species of microscopic animalscalled zooplankton. Twelve are likely to be new species.
The researchers used sophisticated nets that can be individually closed and opened at the touch of a computer key.
The team's catch included many strange and menacing lookingspecies, such as the one pictured—a prawnlike crustacean called anamphipod. An amphipod supposedly inspired the monster in the movie Alien.
These extreme deep-sea species survive by eating each other or bylatching on to dead fish and other organic matter that floats down fromabove, researchers say.
Further surveys are planned by the team, which estimates that at least1,600 new zooplankton species will be discovered worldwide by 2010.
The team says most previous studies of ocean zooplankton have focusedon species living at depths of fewer than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).Below that level, little is known about zooplankton diversity,distribution, and abundance.