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 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, including 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, said 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. They are now assessing those samples in hopes of better understanding potential management and policy needs around the region. They also hope the research will advance understanding of the overall ocean ecosystem, especially 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," 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 and 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, which 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?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (17)
  • jesusr1-cas
    10/17/2016 - 04:08 p.m.

    i think that it is interesting that it's goin to take up to 1 year or more so they can draw their conclusion about the sea creatuers that we might not know from today or years ago

  • wriver-dav
    10/17/2016 - 05:29 p.m.

    In response to " researchers find mysterious deep-sea creatures," I agree that they are mysterious. One reason I think they are mysterious is because the area where they were found which is 1 mile off of the coast of the Hawaii islands is an area where they are typically not very many fish and for All these creatures to be found is mysterious. Another reason is that The creatures that they found look really really weird and odd. It says in the article that we know more about the surface of the moon then the deep-sea. A third reason no I think they are mysterious is because obviously we just found out that they existed so they have to be mysterious a little bit .Even though we find out about new animals just about every day , I think that is weird where these creatures showed up geographically.

  • wlauren-dav
    10/20/2016 - 12:47 a.m.

    it's very interesting that there were mysterious sea creatures that hid from the majority of the ocean and are now recently being discovered.

  • ahatz-wim4
    10/21/2016 - 11:36 a.m.

    Because We know little about them. It is also very difficult to go so deep in the ocean. Deep-Sea creatures are different from all the wild life we are used to that's probably why they are so mysterious.

  • abash-wim4
    10/21/2016 - 11:40 a.m.

    Deep- sea creatures seem so mysterious because, people can't go down into the for more than a few miles under water, and no one knows what some creatures look like and live in a part of the ocean that's unknown. I think it's strange how people can go into space, but we can't go to the bottom of the ocean.

  • kariml1-mac
    11/02/2016 - 11:39 a.m.

    deep sea creatures may see mysterious because we have never seen them before or maybe we don't know what they are and they might cause a really bad disease that could kill people if any person touches them

  • jajuanj1-bla
    1/27/2017 - 08:39 a.m.

    I think this could be super cool if we observe the bottom of the ocean. Because we kind find thing form decades and new type of fish. We might find a new resource.

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