New finds from the deep sea off New Zealand

Feb 05, 2013
Holding specimens of deep-sea cusk eel, cosmopolitan rattail and new eelpout. From left to right, Steve Bailey, Dr Alan Jamieson, Te Papa’s Andrew Stewart. Credit: Malcolm Clark

Scientists have returned from a two-week survey to the north of New Zealand, near the Kermadec Islands, with photos and footage of new-to-science fish.

In seven days of sampling, they took over 6500 photographs, and caught about 100 fish.

They have discovered a new species of eelpout, and new records of a rattail fish that hasn't previously been caught in the southwest Pacific, another rattail that hasn't been caught in New Zealand waters for over 100 years and a large deep sea cusk eel.

One of the species of rattail found by the scientists, called the Cosmopolitan Rattail, was first caught off New Zealand by the HMS Challenger in a global scientific expedition in the 1870s.

A rare species of rattail; this is the first record in south west Pacific. Credit: NIWA/University of Aberdeen

Large numbers of amphipods, like marine sand-hoppers, were also sampled to continue work previously carried out by the team in the Kermadec Trench.

The voyage covered waters well below the depth that light penetrates, sampling depths between one to six kilometres on the edge of the Kermadec Trench. It is one of the deepest places on earth with depths exceeding 10 kilometres.

The scientists onboard RV Kaharoa, from the University of Aberdeen, NIWA, and Te Papa used landers, with cameras attached that free-fall to the , as well as baited fish traps to attract animals.

The cosmopolitan rattail, Coryphaenoides armatus. Credit: NIWA/University of Aberdeen

Voyage Leader, Dr Alan Jamieson, from the University of Aberdeen says, "The amount of data recovered during the survey was considerable. A lot can be learnt and achieved by using fairly basic equipment in the deep sea."

The new data added to information collected from the Kermadec Trench in three previous voyages on RV Kaharoa by the Aberdeen-NIWA team.

NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Malcolm Clark says, "The enables New Zealand researchers to use scientific equipment we don't have, and to sample places that would otherwise be inaccessible, and hence unknown.

"The results from this deep exploration are giving us a much better understanding of biodiversity in the deep sea around New Zealand, and enable us to better assess potential risks to the ecosystem from future climate change and even human activities which may include seabed mining."

New record for New Zealand of a species of deep-sea cusk eel. Credit: NIWA/University of Aberdeen

Deep sea areas seem beyond the reach of exploitation but Dr Clark says that "mining is a prospect in some areas of the Pacific at depths of four to five kilometres in the near future."

Dr Jamieson says, "A voyage such as this is testament to how feasible scientific research in the deep sea has become. It is no longer the inaccessible, out of reach, part of the world it once was. The technological challenges of the past no longer exist, and shouldn't limit our responsibility to learn about and understand the to help ensure the long term health of the deep oceans, one of the largest environments on earth."

The new specimens will be held at the National Fish Collection at the Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa.

The amphipod samples will be registered in NIWA's Invertebrate Collection.

Explore further: Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

More information: The images can also be found in the accompanying gallery 'New finds from the deep sea off New Zealand - Jan 2013'.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists snare 'superprawn' off New Zealand

Feb 03, 2012

Scientists have captured a "supergiant" crustacean in waters seven kilometres (4.5 miles) deep off New Zealand, measuring 10 times the normal size of related species.

New shrimp named after scientist

Mar 04, 2011

It’s a new species of shrimp and it’s been named Princaxelia jamiesoni after the University of Aberdeen scientist who discovered it in trenches at the bottom of the North West Pacific Ocean.

N.Z. great white sharks take 'tropical holidays'

Jul 07, 2011

New Zealand's great white sharks enjoy an annual "tropical holiday", swimming thousands of kilometres (miles) to warm South Pacific waters before returning home, according to researchers.

Scientists film hagfish anti-shark slime weapon

Oct 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The hagfish found in New Zealand’s deepest waters is grotesque enough, thanks to its scary protruding teeth straight from a horror film.  Now, scientists have witnessed the full ...

Deep-sea fish in deep trouble

Sep 07, 2011

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

15 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...