Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Endangered Species Day?

With so many sea creatures at risk of extinction, it is heartening to hear that new species continue to be discovered. Actually, more new animals are found every year in marine environments than any other. But this is no reflection of ocean health – rather, it illustrates how very little we know about life in the ocean, especially the deep sea. In fact, global populations of marine species plummeted by 28% in just 10 years, according to the Living Planet Index.

Last summer, Canadian researchers from DFO and Memorial University rented a powerful submersible camera to explore the fascinating depths of Sable Gully. They came back with the most incredible photos! This exciting voyage also revealed several species not previously known to science, including this stunning file shell from the family Limidae. (Photos courtesy of DFO. Crocheted Limidae made by Morgan. )

The Sable Gully is a deep underwater valley located about 200 kilometres from the shores of Nova Scotia. Here on the edge of the Scotian Shelf, the sea floor suddenly drops over two kilometres, revealing a canyon almost 70 kilometres long and 20 kilometres wide. The Gully, now designated as a Marine Protected Area, is home to a rich and unique diversity of marine habitats and species. An integral part of ocean zoning, marine protected areas have a critical role to play in the conservation and protection of ocean life.

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