Hundreds of new marine species and previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons have been discovered in the depths of the Southern Ocean, Australian scientists said Wednesday.It always amazes me how little we know about what is going on at the bottom of the ocean. Until we have mapped and explored all of the underwater world on Earth, I would redirect all the money going into exploring outer space and direct it here.
A total of 274 species of fish, ancient corals, molluscs, crustaceans and sponges new to science were found in icy waters up to 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) deep among extinct volcanoes, they said.
The scientists mapped undersea mountains up to 500 metres high and canyons larger than the Grand Canyon for the first time, the government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said.
The finds were made in marine reserves 100 nautical miles south of the Australian island of Tasmania during two CSIRO voyages in November 2006 and April 2007 using new sonar and video technology as well as seafloor sampling.
"They're really what we call the rainforests of the deep, they provide an area where we get a very wide range of species collected and that's really unique in the deep sea environment," he said.
In the cold depths of the Southern Ocean "things grow quite slowly so when you're looking at a coral which is maybe two metres high, it may also be 300 years old or more," said Bax.
Scientists said that only a tiny proportion of Australia's oceans had been explored in such a way and they could only speculate on the biodiversity hidden under the water.