Scientists Find Weird New Marine Species off New Zealand Coast


With a name like Bounty Trough, you might say this particular slice of the ocean off the coast of New Zealand is bound to hold some of planet’s best-kept biological secrets. We’re not sure scientists expected to find 100+ potentially new marine species during a recent research trip to the area, though.

Led by Ocean Census, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Ocean Census-Bounty Trough research cruise brought a team of scientists out to sea for 21 days to see what they could find. The expedition wrapped about a month ago. Since then, scientists have been hard at work cataloguing their more than 1,800 samples.

Image courtesy of Ocean Census

So far, Ocean Census says they’ve found what appear to be over 100 new marine species from depths down to 4,800 meters (15,748 feet). Since determining whether a species truly is new to science requires time, scientists can only make educated guesses until they’re ready to publish their findings for the scientific community.

Exciting Finds

One of the more exciting finds is this octocoral, which may represent an entirely new genus of corals.

new species new Zealand
Image courtesy of Ocean Census

In addition to the octocoral, new species may also include “dozens of mollusks, three fish, a shrimp, [and] a cephalopod.”

new species new Zealand
Image courtesy of Ocean Census
new species new Zealand
Image courtesy of Ocean Census

In addition to the 100+ potentially new marine species the researchers found during the Ocean Census-Bounty Trough expedition, there are many weird things we already know about. For instance, they pulled up sea cucumbers (including a sea pig), and what appears to be a blob sculpin.

It’s unclear whether these specimens represent new species or known species, but they’re weird and fascinating either way.

new species new Zealand
A sea cucumber. Image courtesy of Ocean Census
new species new zealand
A sea pig. Image courtesy of Ocean Census

Learn more about this exciting expedition here:


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