Six Rare Species Found in Deep Indian Ocean in the Longqi Vent Field: Research

Six Rare Species Found in Deep Indian Ocean in the Longqi Vent Field: Research

Researchers have found six new species during exploration of Longqi vent field in deep Indian Ocean. The Longqi vent field is location nearly 1,200 miles southeast of Madagascar. The region is nearly 1.7 miles deep and remotely operated vehicles were used by researchers to access the region. The research team found six new species, including snails, limpets and hairy-chested Hoff crab (Kiwa).

The research team was led by Jon Copley from the University of Southampton in the U.K. The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was launched in year 2011. The Longqi vent field was first captured on camera in year 2007. The area is interesting as there are both hot and cold vents in the region. The hot vent termed as ‘black smoker’ vent releases iron-sulfide rich fluids which are dark in color. The fluids at hot vent have been recorded at 300 degrees Celsius.

The research paper detailing the findings of the University of Southampton team has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The research team noticed many similarities between hairy crab species seen at Longqi with the Hoff crabs found in the Antarctic. However, this species of crab has not been reported anywhere else. The research team also pointed out that deep-sea snail G. aegis found in the region has not been seen anywhere else.

Other species found in the region include scaly-foot gastropod (Chrysomallon squamiferum), small shrimp Rimicaris kairei, Mirocaris indica and a one scale worm of genus Branchipolynoe.

Professor Copley informed, "Finding these two species at Longqi shows that some vent animals may be more widely distributed across the oceans than we realized."

The vents at Longqi have copper and silver deposits and this has attracted interest of mining companies in the region.

Copley informed, “Our results highlight the need to explore other hydrothermal vents in the southwest Indian Ocean and investigate the connectivity of their populations, before any impacts from mineral exploration activities and future deep-sea mining can be assessed.”

"We can be certain that the new species we've found also live elsewhere in the southwest Indian Ocean, as they will have migrated here from other sites, but at the moment, no one really knows where, or how well-connected their populations are with those at Longqi," Copley added.


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