By Svetlana Arkhangelskaya, Special to RBTH | November 30, 2015
In the summer of 2015 almost 500 previously unknown ocean species were discovered in the Kuril Basin that is part of the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Scientists from Russia, Germany, Japan, Spain, and other countries took part in the SokhoBio expedition that made these sensational discoveries. In an exclusive, RBTH reports the preliminary results.
Scientists previously thought that deep-water life in the Sea of Okhotsk was scant and lacking diversity, and previously they knew of only 50 species in the Kuril Basin. Deputy head of the SokhoBio expedition, Marina Malyutina, told RBTH that they found about 1,000 species there last summer. More than half of them are completely new for scientists. Most are similar to Antarctic and Atlantic deep-water species, and include single-celled organisms, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, various worms, and fish.
Scientists were surprised by the similarity between species of deep-water fauna in the southeastern part of the Kuril Basin and that of the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
“This is amazing because Pacific Ocean fauna is ancient, evolving in the course of millions of years,” explained Malyutina. “The Far Eastern deep-water basins are relatively young and have a complex geological history, with periods of glaciation and complete isolation.”
Research was made at a depth of 3,500-6,000 meters, where there is no natural light and the pressure is 750 times higher than in the atmosphere. At these depths, the main inhabitants are a few millimeters in size, and are difficult to catch.
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