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 to study 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 told The Associated Press that the abundance of sea life sampled in a particular stretch of water off the Big Island points to a thriving deep-sea habitat. But they 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 from 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, such as currents, water temperature and undersea topography, likely all 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" as 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, such as plastic and land debris that could be hurting the life that exists there.
 
The federal research team was joined by scientists from Bangor University in North Wales, United Kingdom, and the University of Hawaii.
 
Another recent expedition by Conservation International and the University of Hawaii was conducted farther off the coast of the Big Island. It was at a group of seamounts. These are active and dormant underwater volcanoes similar to the Hawaiian Islands that 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?
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COMMENTS (104)
  • brandonu-stu
    10/05/2016 - 07:59 a.m.

    I likes the article I cant beleive they found one another one its great what they do to see if there more diffrent kinds of fish.

  • brandonu-stu
    10/05/2016 - 08:06 a.m.

    And i think its realy deep to the midnight place

  • camerono-stu
    10/05/2016 - 08:43 a.m.

    i think this artical is really interesting. it is full of fish i never knew. i find it surprising how we keep finding new speices and still are some undiscovered.

  • breannah-stu
    10/05/2016 - 08:48 a.m.

    it almost seems that new species is poping up all the time.

  • tylers531-stu
    10/05/2016 - 10:29 a.m.

    i think that is is cool to see new sea creatchrs in the world and we can do resurch on them.

  • emmah1-stu
    10/05/2016 - 11:10 a.m.

    I think this article is very interesting because I had no idea of the types and diversity of creepy deep sea animals! I love this quote from the article, "What we know about the ocean is less than the surface of the moon," because it is very true. I think the ocean is a whole world of its own and can help our understanding of earth. Normally strange animals are discovered in foreign countries, but I was surprised to find that these inhabited Hawaii. Also, I recognized many words from science class, which is cool!

  • calebs1-stu
    10/05/2016 - 11:10 a.m.

    The oceans are so big that we will probably never explore them all.

  • anag-stu
    10/05/2016 - 11:53 a.m.

    i never knew there was that tipe of thing in the ocean thats really cool and weird

  • mikalr-stu
    10/05/2016 - 11:56 a.m.

    that is very weird howwe find new creatures everyday in differnt places.

  • anastasiap-buh
    10/05/2016 - 12:07 p.m.

    well this just makes the ocean creeper and scarier! But i admit it is pretty cool that they fond new sea life and what not!

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