19 January 2009

Deep-sea sea squirts discovered

Giant carnivorous ascidians that are "basically an underwater Venus fly trap", sea spiders and giant sponges, and previously unknown marine communities dominated by gooseneck barnacles and millions of round, purple-spotted sea anemones.
One of Australia's deepest residents a carnivorous sea squirt, or ascidian, standing half a meter tall on the seafloor on the Tasman Fracture Zone at a depth of 4006 metres. (Photos AFP/HO/Ho)

A US-Australia team conducted this deep sea submarine exploration off Australia's southern coast which also came across 'vast fields' of deep-sea fossil corals that were more than 10,000 years old.

Modern-day deep-water coral reefs were also found. However, there is strong evidence that this reef system is dying, with most reef-forming coral deeper than 1,300 metres newly dead.

Though close analysis of samples was still required, modelling suggested ocean acidification could be responsible. "If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system's demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 metres might extend to the shallower portions of the deep-reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community,"

Full articles on the wildsingapore news blog.

Tasmania treats Slideshow of photos of these discoveries on the BBC website.

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