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Discovering a new species of crustacean at the bottom of the sea. It is white in color and has large eyes – Green Savers

Discovering a new species of crustacean at the bottom of the sea. It is white in color and has large eyes – Green Savers

On a deep-sea scientific expedition off the Bahamas, an international team of marine biologists discovered a new species of crustacean, which they described as a “unique isopod.”

The small animal, about 14 mm long, was found more than 500 meters below the surface of the earth in an area known as Exoma Sound, and was officially described as belonging to a new species, Boralana nicorum.

Isopod crustaceans appeared more than 300 million years ago, and can now be found practically everywhere on Earth. In the darkness of the seabed, these animals are essentially scavengers, feeding on the detritus of other dead animals that descend through the water column, from the most shallow to the deepest areas, and are thus essential elements of the cycle. From marine nutrients.

On one Article published in Zootaxa magazineThe researchers explain that B. Nicorum It may, like other similar crustaceans, be able to live without food for several years, and is the fourth species attributed to this genus and only the second from the Northwest Atlantic to be described.

“This work reveals the hidden diversity of this group and highlights how little we know about the deep-sea marine ecosystems of the Bahamas,” says Oliver Shirley, from Stony Brook University (USA) and first author of the book. Article.

For a biologist, the discovery of this species could be just the “tip of the iceberg”, and he believes that in the waters that bathe the Bahamas there could be a “treasure” of “unknown biodiversity”.

Ventral and dorsal view of Boralana nicorum.
Photo: Oliver N. Shirpley et al. (2024)

Before this work, only one species of Boralana was thought to live in this region of the Atlantic Ocean, the Boralana B. TricarinataThe new species is distinguished from it mainly by the shape of its tail. Furthermore, its body, covered by a hard exoskeleton, is practically white and has bulging eyes, two characteristics shared by many other animals that live in the darkness of abyssal seas.

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Morphological distinction between Boralana nicorum (on the left) and B. Tricarinata (on the right).
Photo: Oliver Shipley

“The Caribbean is home to many deep-sea marine ecosystems that could be considered pristine, most of which are hidden due to human exploitation, such as deep-sea fishing and mining,” says Shirley, who believes these environmental conditions are virtually untouched by living organisms. Humans “It provides a baseline against which the effects of exploitation occurring in less pristine areas can be compared.”

However, he warns, “These systems are not immune to the increasing impacts of climate change and pollution, so it is important to understand the full range of biodiversity that these deep marine environments support.”