Deep-sea images reveal colorful life off Indonesia

Aug 26, 2010 By ROBIN McDOWELL , Associated Press Writer
This image provided by NOAA shows a close look one of the many interesting images collected by the Little Hercules ROV during the INDEX 2010 Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud Region off Indonesia in July. Scientists using cutting-edge technology to explore waters off Indonesia were wowed by colorful and diverse images of marine life on the ocean floor _ including plate-sized sea spiders and flower-like sponges that appear to be carnivorous. They predicted Thursday Aug. 26, 2010 that as many as 40 new plant and animal species may have been discovered during the three-week expedition that ended Aug. 14. (AP Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program)

(AP) -- Scientists using cutting-edge technology to explore waters off Indonesia were wowed by colorful and diverse images of marine life on the ocean floor - including plate-sized sea spiders and flower-like sponges that appear to be carnivorous.

They predicted Thursday that as many as 40 new plant and animal species may have been discovered during the three-week expedition that ended Aug. 14.

More than 100 hours of video and 100,000 photographs, captured using a robotic vehicle with high-definition cameras, were piped to shore in real-time by satellite and high-speed Internet.

Verena Tunnicliffe, a professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, said the images provided an extraordinary glimpse into one of the globe's most complex and little-known .

"Stalked sea lilies once covered the ocean, shallow and deep, but now are rare," she said in a written statement. "I've only seen a few in my career. But on this expedition, I was amazed to see them in great diversity."

Likewise, Tunnicliffe has also seen sea spiders before, but those were tiny in comparison, all around one-inch (2.5 centimeters) long: "The sea spiders ... on this mission were huge. Eight-inches (20-centimeters) or more across."

One animal captured on video looks like a flower, covered with glasslike needles, but scientists think it is probably a carnivorous sponge. The spikes, covered with sticky tissue, appear to capture food as it passes by.

Scientists used powerful sonar mapping system and the to explore nearly 21,000 square miles (54,000 sq. kilometers) of off northern Indonesia, at depths ranging from 800 feet (240 meters) to over two miles (1.6 kilometers).

The mission was carried out by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's ship, the Okeanos Explorer. An Indonesian vessel, the Baruna Jaya IV, also took part, collecting specimens that, together with all rights for future use, will remain in the country.

Confirmation that a species is new involves a scientific peer review and other steps and can take years.

Explore further: Sea-level surge at Antarctica linked to icesheet loss

More information: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/welcome.html
http://shiptracker.noaa.gov/

4.9 /5 (16 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New deep-sea coral discovered

Mar 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists identified seven new species of bamboo coral discovered on a NOAA-funded mission in the deep waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Six of these species ...

Scientists conduct DNA tests at sea

Apr 25, 2006

Scientists have, for the first time, used DNA sequencing at sea in the Atlantic Ocean to identify a previously unknown life form.

Expedition heads for world's deepest undersea volcanoes

Mar 25, 2010

A British scientific expedition is heading into the world's deepest volcanic rift, more than three miles beneath the waves in the Caribbean, to hunt for the deepest "black smoker" vents detected so far on ...

Recommended for you

Aging Africa

Aug 29, 2014

In the September issue of GSA Today, Paul Bierman of the University of Vermont–Burlington and colleagues present a cosmogenic view of erosion, relief generation, and the age of faulting in southernmost Africa ...

NASA animation shows Hurricane Marie winding down

Aug 29, 2014

NOAA's GOES-West satellite keeps a continuous eye on the Eastern Pacific and has been covering Hurricane Marie since birth. NASA's GOES Project uses NOAA data and creates animations and did so to show the end of Hurricane ...

EU project sails off to study Arctic sea ice

Aug 29, 2014

A one-of-a-kind scientific expedition is currently heading to the Arctic, aboard the South Korean icebreaker Araon. This joint initiative of the US and Korea will measure atmospheric, sea ice and ocean properties with technology ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

barakn
3 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2010
I for one really appreciate the animal in the photo not being identified in the caption.