Scientists Photograph Hundreds of Never-Before-Seen Deep Sea Species

A Chaunax (a genus of bony fish in the sea toad family Chaunacidae) is seen at a depth of 4,553 feet (1388 meters)

Scientists have photographed more than 100 never-before-seen species that were discovered during a deep-sea expedition.

The discoveries come from an international group of scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition who explored underwater mountain ranges, also known as seamounts, in the southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile this year.

A rarely-seen whiplash squid (Mastigoteuthis) documented at 3,625 feet (1,105 meters) depth
A squat lobster documented in coral at a depth of 669 meters (2,194 feet)

Among the newly identified species of sea life discovered were deep-sea corals, glass sponges, sea urchins, amphipods, and squat lobsters.

Scientists used an underwater robot capable of reaching depths of 14,763 feet (4,500 meters). Using the underwater robot, the scientists were able to map a total of 20,377 square miles (52,777 square kilometers) of the seafloor.

Oblong Dermechinus urchins documented at a depth of 1,692 feet (516 meters)
A squat lobster is documented on sediment at 4,566 feet (1,392 meters) deep.

This not only resulted in the discovery of over 100 new species, but also four new seamounts — each with its own distinct ecosystem.

‘Mind-Blowing’ Discoveries

The Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition was led in January and February by Dr Javier Sellanes of Chile’s Universidad Catolica del Norte.

“We far exceeded our hopes on this expedition,” Sellanes says in a statement.

“You always expect to find new species in these remote and poorly explored areas, but the amount we found, especially for some groups like sponges, is mind-blowing.

“These thriving and healthy ecosystems indicate that the Nazca-Desventuradas and Juan Fernandez Marine Parks effectively protect delicate marine habitats.”

The researchers took samples of the never-before-seen underwater creatures and will now begin studying each one to determine whether they are a newfound species. The process of formally naming and identifying these new alien-like creatures can take several years.

“Full species identification can take many years, and Dr Sellanes and his team have an incredible number of samples from this amazingly beautiful and little-known biodiversity hotspot,” explains Dr Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute Executive Director.

However, all of these strange sea creatures were photographed by the Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition’s underwater robot.

In one image, a bright red fish known as a Chaunax is captured on camera at a depth of 4,553 feet (1,388 meters). A beady-eyed squat lobster was also photographed on coral at a depth of 2,194 feet (669 meters), while other fascinating photos show a rarely-seen whiplash squid at 3,625 feet (1,105 meters).

Image credits: All images by Schmidt Ocean Institute