Valuable manta ray data and two new species of fish have been discovered in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This southeast Asian location is the epicenter of marine biodiversity, so its not surprising that new species would be found there. In 2010, this area was declared a sanctuary for sharks and rays and that led to all of Indonesia becoming a manta ray sanctuary. Here’s more about the fascinating new marine species discovered recently in deep waters.
Johnny Langenheim, author for theguardian.com. teamed up with manta experts Mark Erdmann, VP of Asia Pacific; Conservation International and Sarah Lewis of Manta Trust to gather new data on Raja Ampat’s manta ray populations. Using a drone, they located a previously unknown manta cleaning station, which when staked out with Go Pros revealed 25 new manta rays. Mark Erdmann discussed a range of issues impacting Raja Ampat in his interview during the 2014 Blue Ocean Summi, see : Raja Ampat: How Fishermen, Marine Tourism Operators, Traditional Leaders and NGO’s are Collaborating to Preserve the World’s Epicenter of Marine Biodiversity (photo – The Rascal live-aboard, Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, theguardian.com)
From the Magnificent to the Miniature
At the same time these large marine animals were being recorded, Gerry Allen, one of the world’s leading tropical fish ichthyologists was busy discovering new species of goby. When Allen started his research in Raja Ampat in 2001 the region’s species count was less than 200. Today that number has swelled to well over 2000, largely as a result of Allen’s efforts.
New marine species discovered by Okeanos Explorer
Into its second year of exploring the deep-water environments of the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer continues to collect valuable data including a surprising discovery of several new species.
One is a previously unidentified and very devilish-looking, scarlet-red squid. In addition, the Okeanos team documented an Muusoctopus johnsonianus octopus and a skate at depths of nearly 5000 feet.
Earlier in 2017 the Okeanos located deep-sea coral reefs scattered throughout the Gulf of Mexico at depths of 750 feet. these are very important discoveries that will influence policy to control fishing practices at these depths.
Read our article: Very Deep, Deep-Sea Corals in the Gulf of Mexico
Exploring the Pacific’s Mariana Trench
While conducting research in the Pacific’s deepest abyss, the Mariana Trench, in 2016 the Okeanos discovered a number of new marine species, some that were just as bizarre as the “devilish-looking” squid they found in the Gulf of Mexico. Especially interesting was a ghostly octopus that was filmed at a record depth of 4290 meters and described in our article: Awesome and a Bit Bizarre Marine Life Discoveries.
“Every time we make a dive, we see something new. It’s mind-boggling,” says Patricia Fryer at the University of Hawaii.
Exploring these deeper depths open up rich, new areas of discovery. Back in 2010 an article in Metro focused attention on new marine species found in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean by a team of scientists from the University of Aberdeen.
Probing depths between 2,300ft (700m) and 11,800ft (3,600m) they found some new and truly wonderful marine species like the pink Bathypelagic Ctenophore attached to the very deep sea bed. (photo – David Shale/ PA wire, University of Aberdeen)
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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