August 26, 2010

Possible New Species Discovered In Indonesian Waters

American and Indonesian scientists have managed to capture 100 hours of video and nearly 100,000 high-definition photos that illustrate the biological diversity of the waters around the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) press release dated August 25.

Collaborating at Exploration Command Centers in Jakarta and Seattle, Washington through the summer, scientists were able to use HD cameras and other state of the art technological equipment--as well as the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, the Indonesian craft Baruna Jaya IV, and the Little Hercules remote-operated vehicle (ROV)--to record footage and images of seafloor geology and oceanic life off the coast of the Southeast Asian country.

They also used satellite and high-speed Internet technologies to take advantage of real-time communication and data sharing, according to the press release. As a result of their work, at least 40 new species of marine life are believed to have been discovered, including sea spiders more than eight times their normal size and a flower-like sponge believed to be carnivorous.

"This first exploration of the Indonesian deep-sea has revealed a high diversity of species and a significantly different composition between shallower water fauna and deep-sea fauna," said Tim Shank, a marine biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who worked on the project. "This discovery is significant because it suggests that the evolutionary processes that shaped this deep-sea faunal diversity may be similar to those that resulted in the high diversity of shallow water fauna in the broader Coral Triangle region."

The expedition started on June 23 and wrapped up on August 14. In all, it mapped more than 20,000 square miles of sea floor and is the first mission to take place under a multi-year partnership between the NOAA and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.


Image Caption: A stunning sea lily filters the current for food. Rarely seen, sea lilies are much less common than they once were in ancient seas. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010


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