2000 Miles Pretenders
4 January 2012, 05:00
A lost world of previously unknown creatures has been found near Antarctica.
Using a remotely operated vehicle with a camera attached, they discovered unidentified species including crabs, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones and an octopus.
They were living in volcanic vents deep beneath the Southern Ocean where temperatures can reach 382C.
Professor Alex Rogers, from Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the research, said:
"Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide.
"The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, 'lost world' in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive."
"These findings are yet more evidence of the precious diversity to be found throughout the world's oceans,'' he said.
"Everywhere we look, whether it is in the sunlit coral reefs of tropical waters or these Antarctic vents shrouded in eternal darkness, we find unique ecosystems that we need to understand and protect.''