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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do deep-sea creatures seem mysterious?
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COMMENTS (110)
  • Anastasia-E2
    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!

  • hayleel-ste
    10/05/2016 - 12:46 p.m.

    I always figured that the sea had more creatures then we have discovered. My thought is the ocean is so big and deep that we are unable to explore the whole thing at once that they may never discover all the living organisms that are swimming around in the ocean.

  • jonathanf-stu
    10/05/2016 - 12:52 p.m.

    It is scary because their oxygen might run out si they have to be careful on how low they go

  • maggier-stu
    10/05/2016 - 01:02 p.m.

    I think it's amazing that there finding new creatures in the ocean. There are gonna be more creatures to find too. I hope the researchers keep researching and find new discoveries.

  • nickd-stu
    10/05/2016 - 01:04 p.m.

    where were the two mysterious creatures found.

  • chloeo-stu
    10/05/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    wow that is so weird,and I also think its creepy because there might be some animals that we dont know what they eat or do.

  • rileighsh-har
    10/05/2016 - 01:39 p.m.

    Basically, we know so little about the deep sea that we don't know what we don't know. A lot of things are still being discovered purely by chance, a biologist with the Smithsonian Institution, and one of the few people who have actually been there.

  • kennedyw1-stu
    10/05/2016 - 01:47 p.m.

    these just look really groos in my opioion. But also really cool i like the color of the thing in the picture above.

  • austinm-stu
    10/05/2016 - 01:51 p.m.

    I like this article.It's very intresting to me because we found fished that weren't discoverd yet but now we found them.We'll probabley find more when we keep getting better tecnoligy.

  • arianyr-stu
    10/05/2016 - 02:31 p.m.

    They are much more fish that we don't know that are in the deep sea they look very unusual than the fish near the surface.

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