Otherworldly Creatures Found in Southern Ocean

The deepest depths of the ocean is pretty much the last frontier on Earth to discover new creatures.  This was proven recently as scientists discovered numerous, otherworldly creatures living at a deep-sea vent in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.  Yeti crabs with hairy chests, seven-armed sea stars that eat crabs, and pale white octopuses were among the new discoveries.  In the deep-sea, where the sun has no chance at reaching, hydrothermal energy is produced from these vents on the bottom of the ocean, some of which can produce water as hot as 382 degrees Celsius.

“To see these animals in such huge densities was just amazing,”  Alex Rogers, professor of zoology at Oxford University and expedition leader, told LiveScience.  “We were absolutely stunned to see the animal communities, because they were so different from the hydrothermal vents seen elsewhere.”

Hydrothermal vents had never been found in Antarctica before, mostly because of the difficulty in doing research in such a harsh climate.  But the researchers discovered that it was more than worth their troubles.

“We were completely blown away by what we found,” another one of the researchers, Jon Copley, told LiveScience. “I’ve worked at vents in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, but these are the lushest, richest vents, in terms of life, that I’ve come across.”

And the more species that are discovered and understood, the better we humans can learn to responsibly use the deep seas for mining, fishing or extracting oil.

“Until we understand what governs the patterns of life at deep-sea vents, how interconnected their populations, how well life disperses from vent to vent, we can’t make responsible decisions about how to manage these deep-ocean resources,” Copley explains.