Quoted from the AP article Thousands of strange creatures found deep in ocean, by Cain Burdeau
Nov. 22, 2009
A report released Sunday recorded 17,650 species living below 656 feet, the point where sunlight ceases. The findings were the latest update on a 10-year census of marine life.
“Parts of the deep sea that we assumed were homogenous are actually quite complex,” said Robert S. Carney, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University and a lead researcher on the deep seas.
Thousands of marine species eke out an existence in the ocean’s pitch-black depths by feeding on the snowlike decaying matter that cascades down — even sunken whale bones. Oil and methane also are an energy source for the bottom-dwellers, the report said.
The researchers have found about 5,600 new species on top of the 230,000 known. They hope to add several thousand more by October 2010, when the census will be done.
The scientists say they could announce that a million or more species remain unknown. On land, biologists have catalogued about 1.5 million plants and animals.
More than 40 new species of coral were documented on deep-sea mountains, along with cities of brittlestars and anemone gardens. Nearly 500 new species ranging from single-celled creatures to large squid were charted in the abyssal plains and basins.
Also of importance were the 170 new species that get their energy from chemicals spewing from ocean-bottom vents and seeps. Among them was a family of “yeti crabs,” which have silky, hairlike filaments on the legs.