First joint Singaporean-Indonesian deep-sea expedition discovers 12 new species

Landmark expedition results in the discovery of 12 new species and marks new age in Indonesia-Singapore cooperation 

April 19, 2018
First joint Singaporean-Indonesian deep-sea expedition discovers 12 new species

A team of scientists led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has discovered at least 12 new species of crabs, prawns and lobsters as part of a 14-day scientific expedition to study deep-sea marine life in an area off the southern coast of West Java.

A crab boasting a fuzzy spine and blood-red eyes, a zebra-patterned lobster with long arms and a hermit crab with green eyes and orange banded pincers are but a few of the new species that have been discovered, with lead scientist Professor Peter Ng suggesting that the team of scientists were likely to find more new species among the 12,000 creatures they collected during the 14-day trip.

The team preparing to set sail on their expedition Photo: SJADES2018

“On the research front, our teams have learnt a lot about how to conduct deep-sea science, handle the various equipment needed for such work, and had the opportunity to sample and examine a multitude of fantastic deep-sea animals,” Ng was quoted as saying in a press release after the expedition.

“We expect to identify more new species among the pickings of the expedition, and we certainly look forward to studying the specimens and data with our Indonesian friends.”

Setting off from Jakarta on 23 March, the team of 31 researchers and 25 support staff sailed along the Sunda Strait to Cilacap in southern Java and back again, covering an area of 2,200km. Using a variety of deep-sea sampling methods, including dredges and beam trawls, the researchers surveyed seabeds at depths ranging between 500m and 2,000m.

Known as the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018, the trip marked the first time that scientists from Indonesia and Singapore had conducted a deep-sea biodiversity expedition together, a milestone that NUS described prior to the expedition’s launch as part of wider celebrations “of 50 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Indonesia”.

Scientists will now spend up to two years analysing the samples they collected during the trip, before presenting their findings at a special workshop in Indonesia in 2020.

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