This marine worm, temporarily named Antonbrunnia, was found during a survey by Marine Scotland around the north Atlantic near the Hebrides.
Three other species, a large sea snail and two kinds of clam were discovered in the deep ocean waters off the coast of Scotland.
Ir’s a unique seabed there, built up around cold seeps which could be considered the polar opposite of hot hydrothermal vents found in mid-ocean ridges.
Graham Oliver, an international bivalve expert, actually found the marine worm Antonbrunnia inside one of the clams that has been confirmed as a new species. It’s kinda like a Kinder surprise.
The four secretive sea creatures were previously unknown and found after surveys were conducted off the continental shelf hundreds of miles off the north west coast.
According to Marine Scotland, the mysterious molluscs have managed to avoid detection during decades of underwater research around the Rockall plateau.
“The finds are incredibly unusual and the discovery of the clams and worm at a single site is potentially hugely significant as it could indicate the presence of a cold seep, where hydrocarbons are released from the sea bed. If confirmed, it would be the first cold seep to be discovered in the vicinity of Rockall.”
Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead says the area is not currently being fished right now and the confirmation of the new species will likely result in the region being closed to bottom contact fishing.
Jim Drewery from Marine Scotland Science, who oversaw the research on the deep water invertebrates, said:
“The discovery of these new species is absolutely incredible, especially when you consider that the sea snail measures a relatively large 10 cm yet has gone undetected for decades.”
The sea snail Volutopsius scotiae and clam Thyasira scotiae have been named after the research vessel MRV Scotia while the clam Isorropodon mackayi has been named after renowned mollusc expert David W Mackay.
The marine worm Antonbrunnia has not yet been named and is currently being examined at the National Museum of Wales.
The sea snails were discovered over an area approximately 80-260 miles west of the Hebrides at depths of up to one mile. The clams and marine worm were discovered at a single site, the location of the potential cold seep, which is approximately 260 miles west of the Hebrides in about three quarters of a mile depth of water.