From: Sydney Morning Herald
Published January 19, 2009 09:01 AM

Weird finds in ultra-deep Australian seas

Bizarre carnivorous sea squirts, large spider-like creatures and an ancient fossilised coral reef have all been found in a voyage into ultra-deep Australian waters.

The scientific examination Chronology of the Tasman Fracture, a four kilometre-deep crack in the earth's crust off the coast of Tasmania's south-west, has led to the discovery of creatures never seen before.

"A thing that was really surprising was the diversity of life down there," said Ron Thresher from the CSIRO, who took part in the trip.

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"We really didn't know what to expect in these really deep areas. It could have been anything from bare mud to lush communities. It was really a shot in the dark."

Never before have life forms at such depths in Australia's oceans been studied.

Using a remotely-operated submarine about the size of a small car to collect samples and data, the scientists took photos and film at different depths.

At up to 3000 metres were thousands of sea spiders, creatures about 30 centimetres in diameter that look like land spiders but are in fact unrelated.

At 3500 metres were millions of sea anemones, Dr Thresher revealed.

Article Continues: http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/weird-finds-in-ultradeep-australian-seas/2009/01/18/1232213437216.html

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