Marine scientists from Oxford have just confirmed their surprising discovery of a completely new zone of the ocean in Bermuda, after teaming up with the British charity known as Nekton. This beautiful new region has now formally been christened as the Rariphotic Zone.
This remarkable new ocean zone boasts 100 completely new species and ranges from 226 to 984 feet in depth, as The Telegraph reports. This zone includes exceedingly small crustaceans known as tanaids, a coral that is shaped like black coils of wire that shoot up to nearly seven feet in height, and a large number of new algae species that have never been observed up until now.
The Rariphotic Zone was the product of hundreds of hours of painstaking work in which special underwater vehicles were employed alongside scuba divers.
As Nekton director and Oxford University Professor Alex Rogers explained, with decades worth of serious research around the waters of Bermuda, scientists certainly never expected to alight on the new ocean zone when they did.
“Considering the Bermudian waters have been comparatively well studied for many decades, we certainly weren’t expecting such a large number and diversity of new species.”
As Professor Rogers also acknowledged, taking into account the fact that the Rariphotic Zone was just discovered despite its shallow depth, how many other regions might there be that still have yet to be discovered, especially in areas of the ocean that are far deeper?
An ocean zone nobody knew existed, which is home to more than 100 new species, has been discovered by Oxford University https://t.co/CaSr3I7zSy
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 7, 2018
“The average depth of the ocean is 4,200m. If life in the shallower regions of the deep sea is so poorly documented it undermines confidence in our existing understanding of how the patterns of life change with depth. This is evidence of how little we know and how important it is to document this unknown frontier to ensure that its future is protected.”
Marine scientists at Oxford University and Nekton also located a huge algal forest less than 15 miles away from Bermuda’s coast that was situated right at the top of an underwater mountain. This is profoundly important as there are believed to be well over 100,00o of these mountains scattered around the world, yet the number that have been thoroughly examined are fewer than 50.
Next up for Nekton will be an exploration of the Indian Ocean, which chief executive Oliver Steeds is looking forward to.
“24 people have been to the moon. We have played golf on the moon, yet only three people have ever descended to the nadir of our Earth, 11,000m, to full ocean depth. We now have the technology available to us to discover the deep ocean, to discover more of our planet in the next 10 years than we have in the last 100,000. We have been looking up and when we should have been looking down.”
Rariphotic zone in #Curacao – or where scientists found fish species previously unknown https://t.co/Tp38nyvRnW #coralreefs #nature #science #research #ecosystem #Caribbean #WestIndies pic.twitter.com/D1U4yGMp30
— West Indies Connect (@WeAreWIC) April 17, 2018
With future underwater expeditions planned soon for Oxford University and Nekton, marvelous surprises may await us, just like the new Rariphotic Zone discovered in the ocean of Bermuda.