More than one hundred new species found in deep-sea coral reefs and sponge gardens

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. seamount / ˈsiˌmaʊnt / (n.) – a mountain under the sea

    Divers explore the seamount to see the different kinds of sea creatures living there.

  2. expedition / ˌɛk spɪˈdɪʃ ən / (n.) – a carefully organized journey undertaken by a group of people, usually in a dangerous or unfamiliar place

    The team is planning to go on an expedition to explore the unknown parts of the forest.

  3. fauna / ˈfɔ nə / (n.) – all the animals that live in a particular area or period in history

    The national park is home to a wide variety of fauna, including bears, deer, and eagles.

  4. map / mæp / (v.) – to make a map of something

    Using advanced technology, the scientists mapped where sea turtles go to lay their eggs.

  5. set off / sɛt ɔf / (phrasal v.) – to begin or start traveling

    The climbers set off at 3 a.m. to reach the top of the mountain before sunrise.


Read the text below.

An international group of scientists has discovered more than 100 new species living on seamounts off the coast of Chile.

From deep-sea corals to glass sponges, sea urchins, amphipods and squat lobsters, the scientists say these discoveries from a recent Schmidt Ocean expedition could be contributing to new science. 

Erin Easton, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who was involved in the expedition, explains: “Our expectations and goals for this cruise were to collect representative fauna from the Nazca Ridge and Salas y Gómez Ridge and the Juan Fernandez Ridge. And we want to look to see if we can identify, how those benthic or seafloor communities of animals change with depth and among the different seamounts. And, we were looking to see if there were any, if each community of the seamount was distinct or if they were similar so that we can inform conservation management decisions.”

Descending into the deep ocean, the scientists used an underwater robot to explore seamounts along the Nazca and Salas y Gómez Ridge. They hope this data could support the designation of an international high-seas marine protected area.

“So, on this expedition, we were able to observe over 150 species that have not been reported for the region. And we believe potentially 100 or more of those are new species to science. We observed, these large urchins called cactus urchins. There, they were quite tall, a half a meter sort of tall. And, we saw them in large clusters. We observed forests of corals, so we saw a forest of bamboo corals that were probably thousands of years old. We also saw many other species of corals that were probably on the order of thousands of years old,” says Easton.

The scientists also mapped 52,777 square kilometers of seafloor.

A second expedition set off on 24 February along the Salas y Gómez Ridge.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How might finding new species in the deep sea enhance our knowledge of marine life? Do you believe that discovering new species in the deep sea can improve efforts to protect underwater creatures? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Scientists have discovered more than 100 new species during an expedition. What do you think would be the most exciting part of discovering a new creature in the deep sea? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Which type of expedition would you be most interested in joining (ex. desert expedition, volcano exploration)? Why? What specific experiences or discoveries do you hope to have during this expedition? Discuss.
  • What skills or knowledge do you think would be essential for participating in an expedition? How do you think going on an expedition will contribute to a person’s personal growth or knowledge? Discuss.