BEIJING, Nov. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Unlike most sea
anemones that attach themselves to the sea floor, two possibly new
species found in the waters surrounding the Aleutian Islands near
Alaska can swim and walk.
Scientists discovered the anemones as well as a new
species of kelp as part of a two-year scientific survey of the waters around the
"Since the underwater world of the Aleutian Islands
has been studied so little, new species are being discovered, even today," said
Stephen Jewett, a marine biologist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and
the dive expedition leader.
The researchers are consulting experts to
verify the Aleutian anemones are in fact new species, but the consensus so
far is that they are. Sea anemones are animals that typically use a foot to
anchor to rocks. Some are known to detach when attacked or if their environment
changes and food becomes scarce. The new species likely belong to a class of
anemones that can detach and drift with ocean currents.
The kelp, named Aureophycus aleuticus, is a type of
brown algae that might represent a new genus, or even family (a larger
biological classification that can include more than one genus), of the seaweed.
Up to 10 feet long, the kelp was discovered near thermal vents in the region of
the Islands of the Four Mountains.
Jewett and his team are studying the Aleutian waters
to gauge the overall health of the islands and life there. Already, the team
found evidence that the rugged and remote islands are not immune to human
"Pollutants traveling through air and water pathways
from temperate latitudes have been showing up in the area," Jewett said. "Debris
and oil spills from World War II in the Aleutians have left their mark behind in
unexploded ordinance and local sources of pollutants."
The team is analyzing water samples collected during
dives for nutrient and oxygen levels, acidity, temperature and radioactive
chemicals left over from underwater nuclear tests conducted at Amchitka Island
between 1965 and 1971.