October 16, 2007
A square jaw and edgy brow give a distinctive profile to this boxfish, one of many exotic marine creatures recently found by scientists exploring Southeast Asia's Celebes Sea.
The international team of researchers recently returned from two weeks in the Celebes, a little-explored sea between Malaysia and the Philippines that is home to one of the world's deepest ocean basins (see map
The Celebes's relative isolation and chilly depths make it one of the world's most richly diverse marine habitats, likely hosting species that have lived in seclusion for millions of years, expedition leader Larry Madin told the Associated Press.
"This is probably the center where many of the species evolved and spread to other parts of the ocean, so it's going back to the source in many ways," said Madin, who is director of research at the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
The team found several species that are likely new to science, Madin added, including a swimming sea cucumber, a black jellyfish, and a spiny orange worm with tentacles growing out its head.
Experts will be studying the hundred specimens brought back from the expedition to determine which species are new discoveries.
The research was partly funded by WHOI, the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council
, the nonprofit Conservation International, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Philippine government.
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Photograph by Ocean Geographic Magazine through WHOI/ISSP/Michael Aw/HO/AP