Our research voyage to the Bering Sea has led to the discovery of a species of sponge new to science. Using state-of-the-art manned submarines to explore the world's deepest underwater canyons the new sponge was collected in samples of never before seen life from the Bering Sea floor.
New species of sponge (Aaptos kanuux) discovered during Greenpeace Bering Sea Expedition in the summer of 2007.
The sponge from Pribilof Canyon in the Bering Sea is called will
be named Aaptos kanuux. "We named this sponge 'kanuux,' after the
Unungan word for "heart," explained George Pletnikoff, Greenpeace
USA's Alaska Office Oceans Campaigner and a native of the Unungan
communities on the Pribilof Islands. "These canyons are the heart
of the Bering Sea, pumping out the nutrients that are the lifeblood
of the entire ecosystem. As long as these canyons are at risk, so
too will be the communities that have depended on these waters for
thousands of years."
The underwater canyons where the sponge was discovered are
unique habitats about which very little is known. However the same
area is threatened by destructive industrial fishing methods like
The announcement of the discovery comes on the same day that the
UN meets in New York to discuss the protection of the high seas.
"We know so little about the seas around us and far less about the
open oceans. This amazing discovery underscores the need for the UN
to establish a global network of marine reserves and to stop the
current free-for-all whereby habitats and species are being
destroyed before scientists have even had a chance to give them
names," said Richard Page, an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace
International, attending the meeting.
The Greenpeace vessel Esperanza spent eight weeks in the Bering
Sea in the summer of 2007. During some of the first-ever in situ
surveys in Zhemchug and Pribilof canyons, scientists used
submersibles to reveal how massive bottom trawl nets are destroying
unique areas of corals and sponges.
"This discovery highlights how unique these canyons are and how
little is known about the deep sea," added said John Hocevar,
senior oceans specialist with Greenpeace USA. "Half of the 14 coral
species and two-thirds of the 20 species of sponge we documented
were previously unrecorded in the Bering Sea. Setting aside these
areas as marine reserves would reap benefits for fishing
communities as well as the environment."
The Bering Sea is just one area of the world's oceans that we
know very little about. But overfishing threatens almost all every
part of the oceans. We are campaigning for the creation of a
network of marine reserves, protecting 40 percent of the world's
oceans, as the long term solution to overfishing and the recovery
of our overexploited oceans. That's the only way to protect
everything from unknown sponges to the great whales.
If we want fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today. Add your name to the call for protecting the world's oceans
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