New Herbrides trench explored

A new expedition into the New Herbrides trench has turned up some intriguing finds which could end up adding to the little knowledge we already have of the mysteries of the deep sea.

In a recent post on the BBC website, a team of Scientists from Oceanlab at the Unversity of Aberdeen, UK, carried out an expedition with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand to the area some 1,500 km north of New Zealand. Among the many surprises they encountered in the area, one of the most intriguing was the absence of the grenadiers which is one of the morst common fish species found in the deep sea. In the New Herbrides trench, they reported NONE! There was also an absence of the snail fish, another one of the common fish species of the deep sea. What was comon in the trench was the cusk eel, which is common to other deep sea habitats studied too, only in very low numbers. In the New Herbrides thrench however, these were quite plentiful.

So how is it that fishes that are a common sight in other deep sea habitats are a rarity in the New Herbrides? and why is it that the cusk eel, which is one of the more rarer species in other deep sea habitais turn out to be more common in the New Herbrides trench?

“if you look at the New Herbrides trench, and where it is geographically, it lies under very unproductive waters – there is not a lot happening at the surface of the tropical waters.” (Jamieson)

One possible explanation put forward by Dr Alan Jamieson of Oceanlab suggests that this might be due to the nutrient content of the waters above the trenches. The New Herbrides trench is located about 1,500 km north of New Zealand, and further away from any significant geographical feature that could bring nutrient to the area. This could also provide an explanation to movie director, James Camerons description of his dive to the deepest part of the ocena in 2012 where he described the place as a very ‘alien place’.

A very interesting theory and one that remains to be scrutinised however one thing is for sure, species diversity in the deepest parts of the oceans is not limited to larger creatures. As recently revealed, by studies from the Mariana’s trench, where larger creatures are absent, microscopic life can still thrive.

Adopted from Rebecca Morelle, BBC News (Science & Environment) Read full article here

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