Posts Tagged ‘Starfish’

“Brittle Star City” Found on Antarctic Seamount

May 22, 2008

A teeming horde of brittle stars has been discovered atop an undersea mountain chain near Antarctica, challenging long-held assumptions about the ecological role of such submerged peaks, known as seamounts.

The find, nicknamed “Brittle Star City,” was made by a team surveying waters near the Macquarie Ridge, 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) south of New Zealand, as part of the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year scientific study of life in the oceans.

Voyage leader Ashley Rowden said the researchers were amazed as images from towed cameras revealed tens of millions of brittle stars—invertebrates related to starfish and sea urchins—feeding in the fierce currents that swirl around Antarctica.

Click here for the full article.

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Giant, Unknown Sea Creatures Found off Antarctica

March 28, 2008

Giant sea stars or starfish that measure 24 inches (60 centimeters) across are held by Sadie Mills, left, and Niki Davey of New Zealand‘s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research on February 15, 2008.

They and other researchers collected 30,000 sea creatures—many new to science—during a 35-day census in Antarctic waters in February and March, according to a March 26 announcement.

The large-scale survey was part of the International Polar Year and Census of Antarctic Marine Life programs, which study the diversity of Antarctic marine life.

Click here for the full article and links to pictures of other weird deep-sea critters found near Antarctica.

Starfish Outbreak Threatens Corals

January 15, 2008

crown-of-thorns-starfish.jpg

Outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish now threaten the “coral triangle,” the richest center of coral reef biodiversity on Earth, according to recent surveys by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The starfish — a predator that feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue — were discovered in large numbers by the researchers in reefs in Halmahera, Indonesia, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which lies between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It is considered the genetic fountainhead for coral diversity found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo and other reefs in the region.

Scientists fear the outbreak is caused by poor water quality and could be an early warning of widespread reef decline.

Click here to read the full article.