"In the north-east, sea urchins were dominant on the flat plains and the cliffs were colourful and rich with sponges, corals and other life.
"In the north-west, the cliffs were dull grey bare rock with much less life. The north-west plains were the home of deep-sea enteropneust acorn worms. Only a few specimens, from the Pacific Ocean, were previously known to science.
"These worms are members of a little-known group of animals close to the missing link in evolution between backboned and invertebrate animals.
"The creatures were observed feeding and leaving characteristic spiral traces on the sea floor.
"They have no eyes, no obvious sense organs or brain but there is a head end, tail end and the primitive body plan of back-boned animals is established. One was observed showing rudimentary swimming behaviour.
"By the end of the expedition three different species were discovered each with a different colour, pink, purple and white with distinctly different shapes."
Using the remotely operated vehicle, high quality complete specimens of all three different-coloured species were captured and will be sent to specialists for further investigations.
Sea cucumbers, or holothurians, normally seen crawling incredibly slowly over the flat abyssal plains of the ocean floor, were found on steep slopes, small ledges and rock faces of the underwater mountain range.
Researchers were also surprised to see that they were very able and fast moving swimmers and unique video sequences were recorded of swimming holothurians.
Professor Priede said: "This expedition has revolutionised our thinking about deep-sea life in the Atlantic Ocean. It shows that we cannot just study what lives around the edges of the ocean and ignore the vast array of animals living on the slopes and val
|Contact: Jennifer Phillips|
Census of Marine Life