The Beacon

Giant Foraminifer, Discovered by Oceana, Named a Top Species for 2014

The giant foraminifer (Spiculosiphon oceana), a single-celled organism discovered by Oceana, has been named one of Top 10 New Species for 2014 by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s International Institute for Species Exploration (SUNY-ESF IISE). Spiculosiphon oceana was found during a 2012 voyage to the Seco de Palos seamount located off the coast of Murcia, Spain.

“It is wonderful that the Spiculosiphon oceana has attracted international scientific attention,” research director of Oceana in Europe Ricardo Aguilar said in a press release. “The discovery of this protozoan species confirms the valuable biodiversity of seamounts and shows just how limited knowledge of the seabed is.”

Foraminiferans are unicellular organisms with shells — often referred to as tests — and range in size from 100 micrometers to several centimeters, according to the University of California Museum of Palaeontology. Giant foraminifers reach four centimeters in length, making them “giants” in the world of single-celled creatures and the largest discovered in the Mediterranean, explains an Oceana press release. These organisms mimic carnivorous sponges in both their appearance and feeding mechanisms.

Oceana first documented Seco de Palos in 2007 using a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), but didn’t find samples of Spiculosiphon oceana for another five years. Seco de Palos is located about 95 to 110 meters underwater, and hosts populations of basking sharks, sea turtles, and Risso’s dolphins. The discovery, made by Oceana and the Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes, was first published in the scientific journal Zootaxa in collaboration with the Centre for Oceanography of Marseille.

The leaf-tailed gecko, skeleton shrimp, and Kaweesak's dragon tree are among some of the other top 10 species for 2014, chosen out of 18,000 new species by an international team of taxonomists. SUNY-ESF IISE publishes this list every year around the May 23 birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy. You can view the full list for 2014 here, and learn more about Spiculosiphon oceana by watching this short video by Oceana.


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