Scientists find new species in "china shops"

View:3019 Time:2009-03-16

 WELLINGTON, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Scientists believe they have found new species after two weeks surveying New Zealand Fiordlands underwater "china shops," said a media statement released on Tuesday.

    "Its early days yet, but preliminary analyses indicate we have found more than 20 new invertebrates and six new species of algae during the surveys," project leader Trevor Willis said in the statement.

    China shops are often sites where protected species such as black or red corals are present in high densities, or where other species are found much closer to the sea surface than usual.

    They are called "china shops" for a reason -- areas of particular biological interest or fragility, some of which are designated as no anchoring zones under management plans implemented by the Fiordland Marine Guardians and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

    A team of scientific divers equipped with ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and underwater cameras were doing a survey under a collaboration project between DOC and NIWA (the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research).

    "We have also identified several new areas that are worthy of china shop status and protection - some of these are truly spectacular," Willis said.

    Many of the spots had never been dived before. One, for example, was nicknamed Smiley Face after the numerous large, seven-gilled sharks the divers encountered.

    Fiordland Marine Guardians chair Malcolm Lawson said," We are very pleased with the results of this project as it will give people more of an appreciation of just what a diverse range of species we have in the Fiordland Marine Area and why it is important to look after it."

    A second survey voyage will take place in early April, when the team will work with ROVs and deep-water cameras to study life on the fiord walls at depths greater than 100 meters.

    "Fiordland is still relatively untouched," said Willis. "We probably know more about the marine life of Antarctica than this unique area on our own doorstep. I am certain that further surveys will yield new species, and we will be constantly revising the marine biodiversity of Fiordland." 

Editor: Ma Tianjiao
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