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The Smoking Kamchatka trench is one of the 5 deepest trenches on Earth. Its depth reaches 10542m. Surprisingly, its width is only 59 meters. Compared to the measurements of the ocean, it is tantamount to a crack on the seabed. However, the “trench-tunnel” still holds many secrets and hundreds of unexplored organisms.
A storehouse of new marine organisms
As early as 2017, scientists stated that 500 previously unexplored marine organisms were discovered at the depth of the Kurilo-Kamchatka trench during the expedition, which included specialists from Russia, Japan and Germany. According to experts’ estimates, half of them were discovered for the first time. This is not the end of a large-scale project to study the deep water trenches of the Pacific Ocean, and today scientists are ready to share a sensational find – a huge leech!
A new species has been found
In the course of the expedition, the participants of which were the employees of the Far Eastern Federal University, specialists from Germany and colleagues from the NSCMB FEB RAS discovered a giant leech.
The animal inhabiting a depth of almost 9 kilometers belongs to an independent species Johanssonia extrema, has a long translucent worm-shaped body and a round massive mouth.
Leech expert Sergei Utevsky says that the animal is presumably fed on the blood of deep-sea fish (in particular, commercial deep-sea fish macrouse) and has no DNA relationship with any of the known leeches. “It is surprising that at such a great depth the phenomenon of giganticism is developed, because in contrast to the usual sizes of leeches (about 25 millimeters) this individual reaches 58 millimeters. Previously, it was assumed that there were insignificant numbers of small animals at depth, but today experts have proved that this assumption is fundamentally wrong.
Ahead of the scientists have ambitious plans: to explore the nearby sea trenches, to find such leeches, to determine their relationship and to reveal the veil of secrecy to the formation of life in the sea depths. In addition, there remains a theory of the multi-million dollar reserves of deep-sea minerals that will be available for study in the long term.