Researchers find mysterious deep-sea creatures
Researchers find mysterious deep-sea creatures In this Sept., 2016 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a Commerson's frogfish that was found off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island is shown. (NOAA via AP)
Researchers find mysterious deep-sea creatures
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Federal researchers have just returned from an expedition. They are studying the biodiversity and mechanisms of an unusually rich deep-sea ecosystem. It is located off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spoke with The Associated Press. They discussed the abundance of sea life sampled in a particular stretch of water off the Big Island. It points to a thriving deep-sea habitat. But the scientists aren't exactly sure why. The area is about a mile off the south shore of Hawaii Island. It was full of fish. These include sawtooth eels, dragonfish and many other mysterious deep-sea creatures.
Much of the ocean surrounding Hawaii is among the least productive water in the Pacific. This is according to the expedition's lead researcher, Jamison Gove. He is a NOAA oceanographer.
"Yet we know that Hawaii is this biological hotspot," he said. "So there's kind of this paradox. How can you have so much productivity around Hawaii, yet the surrounding ocean waters are literally a barren ocean landscape?"
Part of the mission's purpose was to pinpoint why the islands, and this location in particular, are so rich in marine diversity, Gove said.
They took samples of the area. They went down to depths of about 1,500 to 2,000 feet. To capture the samples, they used large trawling nets. The scientists are now assessing those samples. They hope to better understand potential management and policy needs around the region. They also hope the research will advance understanding of the overall ocean ecosystem. They are focused on the largely unknown and unexplored deep-sea areas.
Jack Kittinger is the senior director of the Hawaii program at Conservation International. He told the AP that the Kona coast is "such a gift." It is full of spectacular life. Some areas of the world's oceans simply have more life than others, he said. A combination of factors is involved. Water temperature and undersea topography likely play a role.
"We really have to do a good job of managing these special, amazing places. And Kona is absolutely one of them," Kittenger said. "If there's one (hotspot) in Kona, there's probably dozens and dozens of them in other places, including in Hawaii. We just haven't stuck anything down there to find them yet."
It will take the researchers up to a year or more to draw their conclusions. But they believe part of the reason for such a rich habitat in this location is the way the seafloor dramatically rises as it reaches the island. This brings nutrients up. It creates food for a wide range of sea life.
"What we know about the ocean is less than the surface of the moon," Kittinger added.
The team also studied surface slicks. These are the narrow, glassy channels of water that are visible in the coastal ocean waters. The researchers found that these ribbons of water create "an oasis in the desert." They pull together juvenile reef fish, baby sea turtles, plankton and even coral larvae. But the slicks, which are created by wind, tide and undersea structure, also gather other material. It includes plastic and land debris, which could hurt the life that exists there.
The federal research team was joined by other scientists. They were from Bangor University in North Wales, United Kingdom, and the University of Hawaii.
Another recent expedition also was held.  It was sponsored by Conservation International and the University of Hawaii. It was conducted farther off the coast of the Big Island. It was at a group of seamounts. These are active and dormant underwater volcanoes. They are similar to the Hawaiian Islands. But they never reach the surface. The seamounts, like the area studied off the coast of the Big Island, were also rich in marine diversity, likely for many of the same reasons.
"There will always be the unexpected when you go into the deep ocean," said Conservation International's Greg Stone. He is the seamount expedition's lead scientist.

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Why do deep-sea creatures seem mysterious?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • hunterm2-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:38 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because we don't see them often we rarely see them because nothing in the interest of man on the sea floor or in the midnight zone

  • jesseg-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:42 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because we can't see all of the ones below the surface of the ocean floor.

  • emmam-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:53 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because some areas around the world have more life than others.

  • charliem-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because they are so far down in the ocean that people don't normally see them.

  • blakes-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures are mysterious. They are cause they are not found.

  • anthonyd-sti
    10/06/2016 - 11:58 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because its hard to study them because they are so deep down and we hardly see them.

  • jackelyno-jen
    10/10/2016 - 11:10 a.m.

    Because they are deep underwater and most people don't go there so if they did go deep underwater they won't be used to them they will only be used to the ones above water because those are the most common ones.

  • ericas-ebe
    10/11/2016 - 10:47 a.m.

    Deep sea creatures seem mysterious because a lot of people don't go or can't go down that far and when they can they probably won't be mysterious anymore.

  • masont-ebe
    10/11/2016 - 02:06 p.m.

    Because we don't know everything about them.

  • isabellag-ebe
    10/11/2016 - 02:08 p.m.

    I think that they seem mysterious because you don't see them often and they live where it's dark. Those creatures are sometimes ones that not many people know about.

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