scientists claim to have made “staggering” discoveries of unknown underwater species

This expedition by the Schmidt Ocean Institute has “far exceeded our expectations”, rejoices one of the leaders of the mission, carried out in January and February off the coast of Chile.



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This Chaunacops, a fish from the sea toad family, was observed off the coast of Chile.  (ROV SUBASTIAN / SCHMIDT OCEAN INSTITUTE)

A bright red sea toad with hand-shaped fins, an astonishing lobster with bulging eyes or even spiral corals… Here are some of the species discovered at the bottom of the sea, off the coast of Chile, by scientists. These researchers from the private foundation Schmidt Ocean Institute and a prestigious Chilean university led an expedition in the Pacific in January and February. After five weeks of work at the bottom of the water, they estimate they have discovered more than a hundred unknown underwater species.

For this expedition, they first mapped nearly 53,000 square kilometers of the ocean and then explored protected areas of Chile. They then discovered gigantic seamounts and then used a robot that can descend up to 4,500 meters deep. “We far exceeded our expectations”congratulates himself Javier Sellanes, one of those responsible for this mission. He affirms that “the quantities of species found are breathtaking”.

“Less than 15% of the surface of the seabed is known”

This discovery does not surprise Françoise Gaill, oceanographer and emeritus research director at the CNRS because “we still have less than 15 % of the surface of the seabed which is known.” “There have been major expeditions to the natural history museum which have shown that as soon as we look precisely at an area which has not been studied, we find a absolutely incredible number of speciesshe explains. Seamounts certainly shelter biodiversity that had been underestimated a priori.”

The scientists will now begin the analysis phase based on the photos and videos taken and samples taken on site. The objective is to try to identify all these species. But they don’t plan to stop there since a second expedition off the coast of Chile has just started.

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