200 year old deep sea oysters found in Irish waters
Scientists in the Republic of Ireland have discovered a colony of 200-year-old oysters half a mile below the sea.
A research team from Galway was exploring off the south west coast of Ireland when it made the discovery.
The team was using a small, remotely controlled vehicle to explore an area known as the Whittard Canyon, which spans UK, Irish and French waters.
They discovered a rock-face half a mile deep that was covered in molluscs and coral.
It is thought that the oysters can survive at such great depth because food is being channelled to the area by strong currents caused by the shape of the canyon.
"These are remarkably large, and we know that deep-water oysters of these size elsewhere in European seas may be more than 200 years old. So we are probably seeing an exceptionally long-lived and stable community," said Mark Johnson, Professor of Marine Environment at NUI Galway.
This type of discovery is possible due to the development of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that are able to travel to a depth of 3,000m below sea level.
The team from the Ryan Institute at the National University of Ireland in Galway have made further plans to explore the area in the coming months.