Photo courtesy of NOAA photo library
Scientists in the UK have made a remarkable discovery of a staggering number of a new crab species in South Georgia. This new crustacean currently has no scientific name; however, due to their apparent hairy chests, have been nicknamed ‘The Hoff’ after the American Baywatch star, David Hasselhoff.
Dr. Alex Rogers, the leader of the research in South Georgia, has stated that this incredible new species is a type of yeti crab. Yeti crabs were first formally identified in the South Pacific in 2005. The crustacean’s scientific name is Kiwa hirsute and are recognized by their noticeable hair (setae) covering their thoracic legs and claws. These blonde setae are used to cultivate bacteria, which they then consume.
Even though this new species has similarities to the yeti crab, it is however slightly different; therefore, it will need a formal identification and then will be given a scientific name. The main difference between the yeti crabs and ‘the Hoff’ is that the setae on the Hoff cover the ventral surface- their chests.
The cruise ship that discovered this new hairy crab also made several other exciting new discoveries. The team on board also discovered some other potential new species including an octopus that lives an incredible mile and a half (2.4 km) below the surface.
On board the cruise ship, alongside Dr. Rogers’ team and other research groups, there was an advanced deep diving machine (Isis). This robotic vehicle was submerged down an impressive 2.4 km. Isis was sent down to the deep dark depths to explore the East Scotia Ridge. This ridge contains several hydrothermal vents where hot fountains of water, reaching temperatures of 382 degrees Celsius (719.6 degrees Fahrenheit), burst from mineral rich rocks.
The scientists were amazed not only at the incredible sightings of several new and exciting species but also at the lack of the ‘normal’ species that they were expecting to see. Hydrothermal vents usually provide a suitable habitat for species such as tubeworms and muscles. However on this trip, few of the usual species were seen by the scientists and it is thought that the severe conditions from the Antarctic sea acted as a barrier to some of the usual hydrothermal vent species.
These new discoveries have shown scientists that this is a part of our planet that we don’t know very much about. However, these exciting new discoveries could provide a huge leap into increasing our understanding of deep water ecosystems.
By Laura Ireson