Employing a Lu’ukai remotely operated vehicle from the University of Hawaii, on an expedition to the Western Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) aboard the RV Kilo Moana in 2018, several new species have been identified 4.5 kilometers from depth.
Specifically, two new genera and four new species of giant unicellular xenophophores (protozoa that belong to a group called foraminifera).
Xenophophores build shells made up of particles that they obtain from the surrounding environment. These are elaborate structures that can reach sizes of four inches or more.
Found in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, they have been named Moanamina, one of the new genera, in honor of Moana (sea in Hawaiian), while the second has been named Abyssalia, in recognition of its abyssal habitat.
As explained by study author Andrew Gooday , professor of at the UK’s National Oceanography Center (NOC):
These four new species and two new genera have increased the number of xenophophores described in the CCZ chasm to 17 (22% of the global total for this group), with many more known but not yet described. This part of the Pacific Ocean is clearly a hotspot for xenophiophore diversity.