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High definition video from a towed camera system was used to describe the deep-sea benthic habitats within an elongate depression located at the western margin of Rockall Bank in the Hatton–Rockall Basin. At depths greater than 1190 m, an extensive area (10 km long by 1.5 km wide) of what appeared to be reduced sediments, bacterial mats and flocculent matter indicated possible cold-seep habitat. Plumes of sediment-rich fluid were observed alongside raised elongate features that gave topographic relief to the otherwise flat seafloor. In the deepest section of the depression (1215 m) dense flocculent matter was observed suspended in the water column, in places obscuring the seabed. Away from the bacterial mats, the habitat changed rapidly to sediments dominated by tube-dwelling polychaete worms and then to deep-sea sedimentary habitats more typical for the water depth (sponges and burrowing megafauna in areas of gentle slopes, and coral gardens on steeper slopes).
During the 2002 Antarctic Deep-sea Biodiversity (ANDEEP) programme to the Drake Passage, Weddell Sea Basin and South Sandwich Slope and trench, a new deep-water species of orbiniid polychaete was collected: Orbiniella andeepia sp. nov. Orbiniella andeepia appears to be most closely related to O. marionensis but differs in capillary setal structure, the type and number of acicular spines found in each podial lobe. Orbiniella andeepia is only the third deep-water species of Orbiniella to be discovered. It exhibits both a wide depth- and geographic-range within the Antarctic slope and abyssal sediments.
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