Monday, December 11, 2006

Giant Microbes! Jurassic Shrimp! Yeti Crabs! Eeeek!!!

Apparently the ocean gets a census too, I guess so that it can be more effectively gerrymandered in 2010...

This year's update, released Sunday, is part of a study of life in the oceans that is scheduled for final publication in 2010. The census is an international effort supported by governments, divisions of the United Nations and private conservation organizations. About 2,000 researchers from 80 countries are participating.

Ausubel said there are nearly 16,000 known species of marine fish and 70,000 kinds of marine mammals. A couple of thousand have been discovered during the census.

(...)

Highlights of the 2006 research included:

--Shrimp, clams and mussels living near the super-hot thermal vent in the Atlantic, where they face pulses of water that is near-boiling despite shooting into the frigid sea.

--In the sea surrounding the Antarctic, a community of marine life shrouded in darkness beneath more than 1,600 feet of ice. Sampling of this remote ocean yielded more new species than familiar ones.

--Off the coast of New Jersey, 20 million fish swarming in a school the size of Manhattan.

--Finding alive and well, in the Coral Sea, the type of shrimp called Neoglyphea neocaledonica, thought to have disappeared millions of years ago. Researchers nicknamed it the Jurassic shrimp.

(...)

--A single-cell creature big enough to see, in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal. The fragile new species was found 14,000 feet deep. It is enclosed within a plate-like shell, four-tenths of an inch in diameter, composed of mineral grains.

--A new type of crab with a furry appearance, near Easter Island. It was so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation, Kiwaidae, named for Kiwa, the Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Its furry appearance justified its species name, hirsuta, meaning hairy.

Check out the photos here and here, or start at the census's main page.

2 comments:

sunrunner said...

20,000 fish off the coast of NJ? Who would've ever thunk it?

What I want to know, is do they taste good?

Eli said...

That would be enough fish to blot out the sun!!! Um, if they weren't underwater...

I'm thinking they must be *really* tasty, or they wouldn't need to travel in those kind of numbers.