Last month, a ship called the Okeanos Explorer traveled to the waters just off the coast of Puerto Rico and Virgin Island, and sent its remote-operating vehicles down into the crevasses of the Caribbean Basin. These trenches cut far down into the deep sea: at times, the ROV reached three times the depth of the Grand Canyon, but the Puerto Rico Trench itself is even bigger—we could “hide something like 50 Grand Canyons in this big hole,” one team member says.
And in that deep, dark crevass, the team found a wealth of strange sea creatures. “A lot of the animals we saw were really unfamiliar to experts back on shore,” Andrea Quattrini, a science co-lead on the project, told Quartz. For awhile, the team could not identify the delicate creature above; now they believe it’s a formainifera—a single-celled creature with a shell.
They also found creatures like this seastar, which hadn’t been seen by humans for 130 years…
Laetmaster spectabilis, last seen by humans 130 years ago. (Image: Courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Océano Profundo 2015: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs.)
And this fish, which, as far as humans knew, had no business being in this area of the ocean:
This jellynose fish was not known to hang out in this part of the ocean. (Image: Courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Océano Profundo 2015: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs)
And much, much more.
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