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A vast stretch of ocean floor earmarked for deep sea mining is home to thousands of oddball sea creatures, most of them unknown to science.
They include weird worms, brightly coloured sea cucumbers and corals.
Scientists have put together the first full stocktake of species to help weigh up the risks to biodiversity.
They say more than 5,000 different animals have been found in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean.
The area is a prime contender for the mining of precious metals from the sea bed, which could begin as early as this year.
Companies want to exploit valuable deep-sea metals in international waters, but have yet to start extraction.
The place is “a wonderfully weird environment” with a plethora of creatures – “everything from strange [sea] cucumbers with elaborate sails on their back to beautiful glass sponges,” said Muriel Rabone of the Natural History Museum in London.
“We need to know what the biodiversity is and what we may lose from any mining impacts,” she added.
The researchers sifted through hundreds of scientific papers and thousands of records in databases to compile an inventory of life-forms in the zone.
Of the thousands of “otherworldly”, “beautiful” and “ethereal” animals recorded, only 400 are known to science.
The list includes: