New species of fish found in Pacific 'twilight zone'

Jonathan Owen
Saturday 17 September 2011 12:29

Dozens of new species from one of the most remote places on the planet have been discovered by experts exploring at depths of more than 300 feet under the sea. Scientists are astonished by the finds made during a five- week expedition to the Pacific Ocean. The startling discovery, made earlier this year but not revealed until now, has been filmed for a television documentary series that will be shown for the first time next month.

At least 30 species previously unknown to man are believed to have been found in what John Earle from the Association of Marine Exploration has described as "probably the single most successful fish catching dive that anyone has ever made at any time!"

A team of divers and marine biologists exploring largely uncharted territory in waters off the tiny Micronesian nation of Palau have not only discovered new species of fish but also enormous underwater cave systems in what they call the "twilight zone" at depths of between 180 and 450 feet. Cameras have documented how, in one dive alone, every fish caught by scientists was new to science, with researchers claiming "Every one of the fish in this bucket is a new species. That doesn't happen! It may have done 200 years ago, but not today".

Sound recordist Mike Kasik likens the researchers to Everest climbers and says, "They're going as deep as men go without a submersible... they're down there working and doing amazing science at the same time."

Unsurprisingly, the producers behind the Pacific Abyss – described as a "true voyage of discovery" and the BBC's latest offering in a long line of natural history blockbusters – are keen to keep images of the latest discoveries to themselves and intend to broadcast them later this month.

On hearing of the discoveries, marine biologist Dr John Copley, from the University of Southampton, said: "This news really demonstrates how exciting it is to explore the ocean. They could have also come across new species of snail, corals, and sponges. There is still so much left to explore and even more as you go even deeper."

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