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Sea finds offer clues to climate change

Many of the new species discovered by scientists recently in the North Atlantic were found by accident.<br />

Many of the new species discovered by scientists recently in the North Atlantic were found by accident.

When samples were dragged up from the ocean to the deck of the Canadian Coast Guard ship Hudson in the past month, scientists found more than they bargained for.

Kevin MacIsaac, a Dartmouth-based scientist, said some undiscovered sea creatures tagged along for the ride.

They found 10 possibly brand new species of coral and sponges, as well as others that are new to this area.

Some of the samples will give scientists a better understanding of the effects of climate change on our oceans.

“If these animals lived in a past environment that is different from our current environment, it would be reflected in the composition of the skeleton you pick up on the bottom,” he said.

Geologists, including Andre Poirier with Université du Quebec, were handed a big surprise during this expedition. They found manganese nodules, which are rocks that “grow” incredibly slowly on the ocean floor.

These rocks record a “chemical history” of the ocean for millions of years, he said, which will help scientists track climate change.

Dalhousie student Lindsay Beazley was on board to collect a specific type of coral for a reproduction study.

“It was really exciting,” she said. “This was special because we had geologists on board and we were going to an area that has never been surveyed.”

 
 
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