The discovery of six bizarre creatures has impacted the scientific community. These new animals were found in the southwest of the Indian Ocean, and they have never been seen in another place of the world before.
The Geological expedition started in November 2011, it was led by Jon Copley from the University of Southampton in a site called Longqi or “Dragon’s Breath.” The new species include hairy crabs, unique snail species, and limpets and they were found in undersea hot springs about 2.8 kilometers deep.
“We can be certain that the new species we’ve found also live elsewhere in the southwest the Indian Ocean, as they will have migrated here from other sites, but at the moment no-one really knows where, or how well-connected their populations are with those at Longqi,” said Dr. Copley.
The mysteries of the ‘Dragon’s Breath’ waters
Scientists from the Southampton University alongside colleagues from the Natural History Museum in London and Newcastle University have been the first to unveil six bizarre new creatures than inhabit the Indian Ocean. The scientist expedition was made underwater using remotely operated vehicles that allowed them to investigate a football-field sized area at a place called Longqi or Dragon’s Breath, which is located about 1200 miles from southwest Madagascar.
In Longqi is an area with a significant number of hydrothermal vents. About 2 miles below the ocean surface, the scientists identified more than a dozen spires known as vent chimneys, created by the heat and mineral escaping from the vents. Some of these chimneys might rise more than two feet tall on the sea floor. They contain deposits of copper and gold, which could increase the interest from mining companies shortly. The Longqi area has been authorized for mining exploration already by the International Seabed Authority of the United Nations.
The heat that exists in the seabed from the vent chimneys of the Longqi area attracts a diverse amount of deep ocean creatures, which had never been seen before in any other place on earth. During the expedition, which was held in November 2011, there were recorded the all living creatures inhabiting the ocean floor of the area, and these species were genetically compared with other population which determined they were, in fact, unique.
“The deep-sea animals that are so far only known from Longqi include: a species of hairy-chested ‘Hoff’ crab, closely related to ‘Hoff’ crabs at Antarctic vents; two species of snail and a species of limpet; a species of scale worm; and another species of deep-sea worm,” as reported by the university.
None of the species had been formally described. However, one species of snail received the scientific name of “Gigantopelta aegis.”
The vents in Longqi are the first pinpointed in the Indian Ocean. According to the scientists of the expedition, they are sure that these new species can be found in other areas of the southwest the Indian Ocean. But they are not certain about from where they have migrated of how connected is the entire population of these species.