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Category: General Information > Ecosystems > Oceans

Anchialine Caves and Cave Biology

Diving explorations of anchialine (marine) caves have led to the disovery of numerous animals, previously unknown to science. While these caves are the longest underwater caves on Earth, the aimals that inhabit them are primitive living fossils.
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Texas A
Galveston , TX 77551
Contact Person: Thomas M. Iliffe
Phone: 409 740-4454
Fax: 409 740-5001
E-Mail: iliffe@cavebiology.com
Website: http://www.cavebiology.com

Detailed Information:
Anchialine (from Greek meaning "near the sea") refers to coastal caves formed in limestone or volcanic rock that are flooded with seawater. They include the longest submerged caves on Earth. These caves are inhabited by a diverse array of previously unknown species from a number of new higher taxa. While some are primitive "living fossils", others are closely related to deep sea species. Most lack eyes and pigment, owing to their existence in the perpetual darkness of underwater caves. While some closely related species are found in caves on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, others, previously known exclusively from caves in the Atlantic Ocean, recently have been discovered in Western Australia. These highly irregular distributions suggest an origin many millions of years ago when the Earth's landmasses were interconnected. Since such anchialine cave animals are frequently limited to a single cave or cave system, pollution or destruction of these caves can result in the extinction of entire species.

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