New Genus of Giant Single-Celled Organism Found in Deep Pacific

Two new genera and four new species of giant, single-celled xenophyophores (protozoans belonging to a group called the foraminifera) were discovered in the deep Pacific Ocean during a joint project between scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, U.K. (NOC), the University of Hawaii and the University of Geneva. “Moana” (meaning “the sea”) has inspired the name ‘”Moanammina” for one of the new genera, while the second has been named “Abyssalia” in recognition of its abyssal habitat.

The species were described, based on morphology and genetic data, from specimens collected with the University of Hawaii’s ROV Lu’ukai on an expedition to the western Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) aboard the RV Kilo Moana in 2018. The seabed in this area is 4,800 to 5,300 m deep. The CCZ occupies a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean with extensive seafloor polymetallic nodule deposits and is targeted for deep-sea mining.

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