An international team (including researchers from Nova Southeastern University’s National Coral Reef Institute, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, the California Academy of Sciences and the National Botanical Gardens of Ireland) recently found a treasure trove of new species in the Madang Lagoon in Papua New Guinea.
“In the Madang Lagoon, we went a half mile out off the leading edge of the active Australian Plate and were in 6,000 meters of water,” said Jim Thomas, Ph.D., a researcher at Nova Southeastern University’s National Coral Reef Institute in Hollywood, Fla. “It was once believed there were no reefs on the north coast of Papua New Guinea since there were no shallow bays and lagoons typical of most coral reef environments. But there was lots of biodiversity to be found.”
Thomas and his team discovered new species of sea slugs (nudibranchs), feather stars (crinoids) and amphipods (genus Leucothoe). There was more variety of these indicator species found than there is in the entire length of Australia’s 1,600-mile Great Barrier Reef.
“This was an astonishing discovery,” Thomas said. “We returned to our labs and began to formally assess our collections. We had no idea this lagoon’s bounty was so profound.”
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