AsianScientist (Apr. 4, 2018) – Braving choppy seas, enduring bouts of seasickness and working 16-hour shifts, researchers of the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018) have captured a snapshot of what lies beneath a largely unexplored part of the Indonesian seas.
The expedition team, consisting of scientists from Singapore and Indonesia, set sail from Muara Baru, Jakarta, Indonesia, on 23 March 2018 aboard the Baruna Jaya VIII vessel. Using dredges, trawls and corers, the scientists probed the waters and the seabed at depths between 500 to 2,000 meters in the vicinity of the Sunda Strait Trough, seeking to document the marine biodiversity in the region. The expedition ends on April 5, 2018.
The samples collected during the expedition will be catalogued over the next two years, and the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a special workshop that will be held in Indonesia in 2020. The outputs will then be collated and published in the museum’s science-citation journal, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.
In the meantime, the researchers have released initial photos of the organisms they hauled up from the depths. Here are just seven of the weird and wonderful creatures they discovered:
- Ice Cream Cone Worm
- Dumbo Octopus
This octopus, which belongs to the Opisthoteuthidae family, was caught at a depth of 900 meters and earns its nickname from its uncanny resemblance to Dumbo the elephant, a Disney cartoon character. The researchers report that the organism has a “jelly-like feel to it and [was] colored dark purple when first observed in the trawl net.”
- Cock-eyed Squid
Unfortunate as its name may sound, this squid’s unequally-sized eyes may be that way for a reason. The unusual-looking creature, belonging to the Histieuthidae family, is known to swim with its larger eye facing downwards to seek out food, while the smaller eye faces upwards to look out for predators.
- Darth Vader Isopod
Named after one of science fiction’s most famous villains, these giant sea cockroaches of the Cirolanidae family scavenge the sea floor for food. The expedition team discovered at least two species of these hardy-looking organisms at depths greater than 800 meters.
- Chain Saw Lobster
It doesn’t require a stretch of the imagination to see how this lobster earned its nickname. The Thaumastocheles massonktenos has a large, mean-looking right claw with serrated inner edges. However, scientists think that the claw is not used for hunting, but rather, functions as a sieve to filter out small animals from bottom substrates.
- Snow White Lobster
Ghostly white in color, this lobster’s real name is Munidopsis nitida and it was hauled up from a depth of more than 800 meters. Just 4 cm in length, it can be found on sunken wood and is known to depend on rotting wood as a food source.
- Fang Tooth
With its long, spear-like teeth, the Anoplogaster cornuta never lets its meal escape. Among the most fearsome of the fishes caught during the expedition, this sample measured 10 cm in length and was trawled from a depth of 500 meters.
Source: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum; Photo: SJADES 2018.
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Resembling an ice cream cone, this 6-cm-long worm belonging to the Pectinariidae family lives at a depth of 300 meters. As it grows, it builds a conical tube around itself. The spines around its mouth are used for digging.