Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Possibly 6 New Species
There is ongoing research of pelagic fish species, known as Mid-Atlantic Ridge Ecosystems program (MAR-ECO), in part for the Census for Marine Life that has been getting a lot of attention lately. There is little knowledge on pelagic fish due to their mostly nomadic type lifestyles and the fact that pelagic deep sea research has been very limited. Many of the collections are taking place along the under sea mountain range known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Using many different tools, including massive trawl nets that can be triggered to open and close at specific depths, submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, and acoustic survey instruments, over 300 different species have been collected. Among the 300+ species are 30 not known to occur at the MAR region and possibly 6 new species altogether. The researchers also had many rare finds, including some of the largest dragonfishes and anglerfishes ever collected. Anglerfishes, for example, typically fit in the palm of your hand, but one sample weighed in at 35 pounds.
One of the major findings, however, is that deep sea pelagics might be much more closely associated with features such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge than ever before realized. The group has now collected several pieces of key evidence that these fish are congregating at the ridge, likely for spawning. Most of those that were collected were gravid females, suggesting spawning activity. Some important indirect evidence of this was also recorded as a scattered layer at 2000 meters detected using acoustic devices, which reflects images of materials or animals at certain depths. This acoustic images suggest large aggregations of fish at this depth in the water.
To read the full article, click here.