January 18, 2009
--An oddity among oddities, this newly discovered carnivorous sea squirt traps fish and other prey in its funnel-like front section, scientists announced today. Most of the 2,000 or so known sea squirt species are filter feeders that strain plankton from seawater.
Tethered to the seafloor 13,143 feet (4,006 meters) underwater, the 20-inch (50-centimeter) sea squirt, or ascidian, is one of the deepest-dwelling animals ever found in Australia. The new species is one of many new deep-sea creatures discovered on a recent expedition that used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) near southern Tasmania, Australia
The joint U.S.-Australian endeavor explored the Tasman Fracture Zone, a crack in Earth's crust 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) to more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep.
The four-week voyage, which ended on January 17, 2009, found evidence that global warming may be linked to dying coral reefs in the ocean depths, expedition members say.
Photograph courtesy Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory WHOI