February 14, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Undersea Lost World Found in Caribbean

No sooner had news spread about a treasure trove of animals in the jungles of Papua (see 02/07/2006 story) than scientists announced another in Neptune’s realm.  The BBC News and MSNBC reported that “An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists.”
    The seamount lies in the Netherlands Antilles in the Saba Atoll, third-largest coral atoll in the world.  A group of international scientists including some from the Smithsonian participated in a two-week dive exploration of the area.  Two new species of Goby fish and a dozen new species of seaweed added the excitement of discovery to the 200 species of fish counted, many more than the 35 previously known for the area.  One new Sargasso seaweed has fronds bearing a resemblance to holly leaves.  The mile-high seamount reaches up to about 24 feet below sea level in places and is crowned with coral and a rich diversity of colorful organisms.

Here we are exploring the surfaces of other planets, and much of our own remains undiscovered.  Neither of the news stories mentioned evolution, which would have been superfluous.  Discovery and description do not depend on a tale of origins.  Everyone can marvel at the color and diversity of these complex organisms in the present.
    The ocean remains one of the last frontiers, and the most vast on Earth.  Little was known in ancient times, but enough for the anonymous author of Psalm 104 to speak awe-inspired of “This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great.”  Perhaps this writer had visited the Mediterranean coast or Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, and had heard mariners’ tales.  Little did he know what was out there by experience – but his description still holds true today.

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