Don’t go in the water – apparently it’s quite crowded enough down there:

Hundreds of new marine species and previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons have been discovered in the depths of the Southern Ocean, Australian scientists said Wednesday. A total of 274 species of fish, ancient corals, molluscs, crustaceans and sponges new to science were found in icy waters up to 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) deep among extinct volcanoes, they said.

The scientists mapped undersea mountains up to 500 metres high and canyons larger than the Grand Canyon for the first time, the government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said.

The finds were made in marine reserves 100 nautical miles south of the Australian island of Tasmania during two CSIRO voyages in November 2006 and April 2007 using new sonar and video technology as well as seafloor sampling.

Announcing the discoveries in the Tasmanian capital Hobart, CSIRO scientist Kate Wilson said more was known about the surface of Mars than the depths of the world’s oceans.

“In Australian waters, for example, more than 40 percent of the creatures brought to the surface by our scientists on a voyage of discovery have never been seen before,” she said.

A total of 123 underwater mountains were found, said CSIRO specialist Nic Bax, noting they were home to thousands of deep-sea animals.

“They’re really what we call the rainforests of the deep, they provide an area where we get a very wide range of species collected and that’s really unique in the deep sea environment,” he said.

I note this article primarily because it puts the lie to all those doom-and-gloom headlines one sees prophesying “the extinction of one quarter of all species on Earth” and the like.  It’s perfectly idiotic to make such claims when we don’t even know how many species of life there actually are.  (And it’s perfectly correct that the scientist johnny talks of the “rainforests of the deep” because rainforests are notorious for the hordes of lifeforms in them about which we don’t know anything.)