A team of scientists have announced the discovery of 30 new invertebrate species collected on deep water expedition around the Galapagos National Park. The team discovered new corals and sponges, including ten bamboo corals, four octocorals, one brittle star, and eleven sponges, they even collected four new species of squat-lobsters.
“These discoveries include the first giant solitary soft coral known for the Tropical Eastern Pacific, a new genus of glass sponge that can grow in colonies of over one meter in width and, colorful sea fans that host a myriad of associated species,” the archipelago’s Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) said in a statement.
Scientists from the CDF, in collaboration with the National Park Directorate and the Ocean Exploration Trust, probed deep-sea ecosystems at depths of up to 3,400 meters (2 miles) using state-of-the-art Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The two ROVs, Argus and Hercules, were operated from the 64-meter (209-foot) exploration vessel Nautilus.
“This finding confirms that Galapagos is a living laboratory with biological and ecological processes in progress and yet to be explored, which make it an exceptional site that merits all our efforts to be conserved,” said Paulo Proaño, Minister of Environment and Water.
The expedition explored for the first time three steep-sided underwater mountains, or seamounts, located near the islands of Darwin and Wolf in the archipelago’s north. The area is home to the world’s largest shark population.
The Galapagos archipelago, located 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of Ecuador, is a fragile ecosystem that harbors the largest number of different animal species on the planet.
This research was carried out in 2015 during a 10-day cruise aboard the E / V Nautilus, a research vessel specialized in exploring the unknown depths of the ocean to a depth of 4,000 meters. [Charles Darwin Foundation]