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‘Mind-blowing’ deep sea expedition uncovers more than 100 never-before-seen species and a huge underwater mountain off the coast of Chile


It covers nearly 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, yet only five per cent of our world’s ocean has been explored. 

Now, scientists exploring the waters off the coast of Chile have discovered a huge underwater mountain that’s home to a range of weird and wonderful creatures. 

From deep-sea corals to squat lobsters, experts from the Schmidt Ocean Institute believe more than 100 new species could be lurking down there. 

‘We far exceeded our hopes on this expedition,’ said Dr Javier Sellanes, who led the expedition. 

‘You always expect to find new species in these remote and poorly explored areas, but the amount we found, especially for some groups like sponges, is mind-blowing.’

It covers nearly 70 per cent of the Earth's surface, yet only five per cent of our world's ocean have been explored. Now, scientists exploring the waters off the coast of Chile have discovered a huge underwater mountain that's home to a range of weird and wonderful creatures

It covers nearly 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, yet only five per cent of our world’s ocean have been explored. Now, scientists exploring the waters off the coast of Chile have discovered a huge underwater mountain that’s home to a range of weird and wonderful creatures

From deep-sea corals to squat lobsters, experts from the Schmidt Ocean Institute believe more than 100 new species could be lurking down there. Pictured: a Chaunax

From deep-sea corals to squat lobsters, experts from the Schmidt Ocean Institute believe more than 100 new species could be lurking down there. Pictured: a Chaunax 

The team stumbled across the new mountain while exploring the Salas y Gomez Ridge. 

This 1,800-mile-long underwater mountain chain comprises more than 200 seamounts that stretch from offshore Chile to Easter Island. 

Using an underwater robot, the scientists were able to descend to depths of 4,500 metres. 

There, they mapped a total of 20,377 square miles (52,777 square kilometres) of the seafloor. 

This resulted in the discovery of four new seamounts – each with its own distinct ecosystem.

The tallest of these seamounts, which the team unofficially named Solito, is 3,530 metres tall. 

The team stumbled across the new mountain while exploring the Salas y Gomez Ridge. Pictured: a spiraling coral

The team stumbled across the new mountain while exploring the Salas y Gomez Ridge. Pictured: a spiraling coral

Using an underwater robot, the scientists were able to descend to depths of 4,500 metres. Pictured: a rarely-seen whiplash squid

Using an underwater robot, the scientists were able to descend to depths of 4,500 metres. Pictured: a rarely-seen whiplash squid

The team mapped a total of 20,377 square miles (52,777 square kilometres) of the seafloor. Pictured: a squat lobster

The team mapped a total of 20,377 square miles (52,777 square kilometres) of the seafloor. Pictured: a squat lobster

For perspective, that’s more than four times taller than the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa!

While the new creatures are yet to be formally named and identified, they were caught on camera by the underwater robot. 

A bright red fish known as a Chaunax was spotted at a depth of 1,388 metres, while Oblong Dermechinus urchins were documented at 516 metres. 

A curious squat lobster was seen perched on coral at a depth of 669 metres, while stunning photos show a rarely-seen whiplash squid at 1,105 metres. 

Other new creatures discovered during the dive include a web-like sponge, a spiraling coral, and a spiky urchin.

A bright red fish known as a Chaunax was spotted at a depth of 1,388 metres, while Oblong Dermechinus urchins (pictured) were documented at 516 metres

A bright red fish known as a Chaunax was spotted at a depth of 1,388 metres, while Oblong Dermechinus urchins (pictured) were documented at 516 metres

Other new creatures discovered during the dive include a web-like sponge (pictured), a spiraling coral, and a spiky urchin

Other new creatures discovered during the dive include a web-like sponge (pictured), a spiraling coral, and a spiky urchin

'Full species identification can take many years,' said Dr Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute Executive Director. Pictured: a squat lobster

‘Full species identification can take many years,’ said Dr Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute Executive Director. Pictured: a squat lobster

‘Full species identification can take many years,’ said Dr Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute Executive Director. 

‘Dr Sellanas and his team have an incredible number of samples from this amazingly beautiful and little-known biodiversity hotspot.’ 

‘Schmidt Ocean Institute is a partner with the Nippon Foundation – Nekton Ocean Census Program, which has set a target of finding 100,000 new marine species in the next ten years and, once identified, these new species will be a part of that.’

'Dr Sellanas and his team have an incredible number of samples from this amazingly beautiful and little-known biodiversity hotspot,' said Dr Virmani. Pictured: an urchin

‘Dr Sellanas and his team have an incredible number of samples from this amazingly beautiful and little-known biodiversity hotspot,’ said Dr Virmani. Pictured: an urchin

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastain is deployed from Research Vessel Falkor at the beginning of a scientific dive

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastain is deployed from Research Vessel Falkor at the beginning of a scientific dive

WHAT ARE SEA SPIDERS? 

Sea spiders are marine arthropods which are distantly related to arachnids. 

Like regular spiders, however, they also typically have eight main appendages – through which they also take in oxygen by means of diffusion.

They number in the region of 1,300 individual species. 

Sea spiders range in size from just a few millimetres across to ones that span as much as 20 inches (50 centimetres). 

They are cosmopolitan – meaning they live all across the globe – and can survive in both marine and estuarine environments.

While most commonly spotted in shallow waters, they can also live as deep as 23,000 feet (7,000 metres) underwater. 

Sea spiders are carnivorous and either predatory or parasitic.

They will generally eat other creatures like sponges, moss animals and worms – while some take bites from, but do not completely kill, molluscs.



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