107 new species discovered in Gulf

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More than 100 new Gulf of Mexico species, living in deep water areas, have been discovered, The Houma Courier newspaper reported on Tuesday.

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A study released earlier this month following a five-year Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded field study uncovered 107, mainly microscopic new species of organisms.

The objectives of the study were to discover and characterize the sea floor communities that live in association with hydrocarbon seeps and on hard ground in the deep Gulf below a depths of 3,300 feet, according to a BOEM statement.

“With continuing interest in oil and gas development in deeper Gulf of Mexico waters, it is imperative for BOEM and other stakeholders to know what forms of marine life inhabit those waters in order to safeguard them during energy operations,” BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in the statement earlier this month. “The incredible range of discoveries made during this study contributes greatly to our knowledge of the deep Gulf and enables long-term environmental monitoring as resource development takes place.”

Paul Sammarco, with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Chauvin, told The Houma Courier that “It helps the understanding of the evolution of organisms.”

The discoveries included a new species of tube worms and one of the largest-known mussel beds in the deep Gulf. The ocean excursions took place in 2006 and 2007 and used a manned vehicle, Alvin, and the remotely operated vehiclem Jason II, according to the BOEM.

Sylvia Lohan

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