Animal may be a new species of glass sponge
Using high-definition video, Norwegian scientists have now filmed the bottom of the Sognefjord, the longest and deepest (1,308 metres) fjord in Norway.
For the past two years, scientists from the Norwegian Havforskningsinstituttet (Institute of Marine Research) have filmed the marine life in the depths of the Sognefjord. Here, beneath the surface, the rock walls are as steep as they are above the water. The fjord is home to a number of unidentified species, one of which has been captured on film for the first time.
Sighted at 800 metres depth, these pale, ghostly creatures can be seen from the 17th second of the video footage. They measure about 90 centimetres. Their length was deduced from the four red dots of laser light in the footage; the distance between the points is fixed at ten centimetres. Scientists suggest that the creatures may be a new species of glass sponge (Hexactinellid).
Lene Buhl-Mortensen, a senior scientist at the Institute, said that previous research methods had been unable to collect samples from the hard ground or rock walls, which would explain why the creatures that had not been previously detected.
“Only through the use of video camera, we see all the animals that live in the fjord,” she added.
At the 44th second of the video, small crabs were seen swarming over holes in the ground dug out by other creatures. There has been no explanation for this unusual behaviour yet.
Many of the animals filmed are known species like deep-sea fish, white sea cucumbers (bathyplotes), sea stars, mussels and jumping crabs (Munida tenuimana) which can be found in the Sognefjord and several other deep Norwegian fjords. They all live on the soft ground and in deep water.
Besides documenting the animals' behaviour in their natural environment, the video has supplemented our knowledge with more information about their quantity and distribution.
Photo courtesys: Marine Research (IMR), Video mapping: IMR
Projekt "Mapping habitats and fauna of Sognefjord" is in collaboration with University of Bergen. The project is funded by Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre.