Researchers have discovered four new marine invertebrates off the coast of Scotland,. These animals may be the first discovered that are unique to the region and their conservation status, when determined, may impact commercial fisherman. There were two new clams, one new sea snail, and one marine worm discovered in the area. The discoveries were made by Marine Scotland and are likely over a cold seep, where methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other hydrocarbons seep out of the ocean floor.
The animals were found in the deep Atlantic waters around the remnants of the ancient volcano of Rockall. This area is used by commercial fisherman who bottom trawl the area, which is a method of fishing by which a net is pulled behind one or more boats. The nets can drag on the floor or are pulled slightly off the surface, which may impact the habitat of these newly discovered species. Potentially, this method of commercial fishing could be banned in the area to protect their environment.
One of the clams, Thyasira scotiae, was named after the MRV Scotia, which was the boat the researchers used when making the discovery. It has a white shell approximately 20 mm wide.
The sea snail was also named for the MRV Scotia and bears the name Volutopsius scotiae. It is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) in length, which is somewhat surprising that such a large snail managed to stay hidden for so long. They were found an astonishing mile (1.6 km) below the surface
The second snail was named Isorropodon mackayi, after famed malacologist David Mackay. This clam is slightly smaller than Thyasira scotiae at only about 15 mm wide. It also has a white shell, though it is smoother and slightly more iridescent than T. scotiae.
The marine worm has not been named, as it is now being studied at the National Museum of Wales to determine if it is in fact a novel species. It belongs to the genus Antonbrunnia, and is the only worm of the genus to have been discovered in the Atlantic. These worms are parasitic and were discovered inside the new clams.