For anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating creatures inhabiting the deep and chilly waters of the Canadian Basin, details of a 2005 research mission has now been published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part II.

There were a lot of surprises,” says biologist Dr Kevin Raskoff of Monterey Peninsula College in California, US, a leading member of the dive team.

One thing was just how many different jellies there were, and the sizes of their populations. Some were somewhat well known from other oceans, but had not previously been found in the Arctic. That caused us to rethink our ideas about what the typical habitat would be for the species. We also discovered a number of new species that had not been found before.”

The deep Arctic Ocean is isolated from much of the other seas and the Canadian Basin even more so since it contains deep-sea ridges that separate the resident deep-dwellers into comparatively small compartmentalized areas.

To learn more about this inaccessible part of our planet, an international team of scientists conducted a series of deep-sea dives using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) capable of filming and photographing in dark, high-pressure conditions. During a series of dives to depths of 3000 meters, over 50 different types of viscous, jelly-like creatures were caught on tape. Surprisingly, one of the most commonly seen animals in this arctic deep turned out to be a type of jellyfish never before described by science.

Probably the single most interesting discovery was a new species of a small blue jellyfish, from a group called the Narcomedusae,” says Dr Raskoff. It was also the third most common jellyfish found on the cruise, which is really surprising when you think about the fact that even the most common species in the area can be totally new and unexpected species.”

You don’t have to go too far to find interesting areas to study, you just have to dive deep,” Dr Raskoff explains.

The team also encountered large amounts of Sminthea arctica, a jellyfish found down to a depth of 2,100 meters, as well as various ctenophores and siphonophores.

The newly discovered jellyfish won’t be formally described until later this year, but has already been classified within its own genus. Just like all the other members of the Narcomedusae group, this small blue jelly distinguish itself from typical jellyfish by holding its tentacles over its belly as it swims instead of letting them drift behind in the water.

The 2005 expedition was funded primarily by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.