The stunning deep-sea footage captured by scientists in 2023 – LSB

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Below 1000 meters the ocean is eternally dark.

Sunlight cannot penetrate these depths, but with robotic explorers, scientists can temporarily illuminate this black realm, revealing a deep-sea world teeming with tentacles, glowing and almost alien life.

Here are some of the most intriguing deep-sea images captured by scientists in 2023. Deep-sea expeditions regularly return extremely rare or unprecedented sightings.


New footage of giant squid shows they aren’t terrible monsters after all

“We always find things when we go into the deep sea. You’re always discovering things you haven’t seen before,” Derek Sowers, expedition leader for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Exploration Mission, told Mashable last year.

The deepest fish ever captured on film

In a hostile ocean realm where the pressure is over 830 times greater than on Earth’s surface, scientists noticed fish casually swimming around.

It’s a curious looking snail, and at 27,349 feet (8,336 meters) down, it’s the deepest fish ever observed. Researchers observed the creature during a deep-sea expedition in the Izu-Ogasawara Trough, located south of Japan, after lowering a baited camera down into the ocean’s “hadal zone.” This mysterious region is named after the Greek god of the underworld and is home to the deepest of the seas. The record-breaking sighting, announced in early April 2023, was made by scientists from the University of Western Australia and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

Even at such remote haddal depths, the researchers note that the snails commonly found in the region are a “large and somewhat vibrant fish population.”

I asked Alan Jamieson, the lead scientist on this Hadal expedition and founder of the Minderoo-UWA Center for Deep Sea Research, how he and his team reacted when they saw the record-breaking fish in the video. “In total awe at how deep these goofy little fish can go,” Jamieson said.

Snails can withstand extreme pressure and have large mouths and stomachs to consume large prey – whenever it comes.

10,000 feet down, scientists discover a “huge” colony of octopuses

In the dark deep sea, an octopus settlement thrives on top of a peaceful volcano.

Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute sent a deep-ocean robot to an “octopus garden” located about 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) below the ocean’s surface, in a dark sea region called the “midnight zone.” Here, the only natural light comes from glowing creatures.

The researchers captured the high-resolution images shown below during a trip to the Davidson Seamount, located off the coast of California. They spotted a whopping 5,718 octopuses in a six-acre area, including 4,707 females nesting over their eggs.

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Footage of an expansive octopus colony on Mount Davidson.

Footage of an expansive octopus colony on Mount Davidson.
Credit: MBARI

Gloomy octopuses spotted over 10,000 feet below the ocean's surface.

Gloomy octopuses spotted over 10,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.
Credit: MBARI

Scientists make exciting discoveries in deep-sea caves

A marine expedition to remote, previously unknown ocean caves more than 8,200 feet down has revealed life thriving beneath hydrothermal vents — vents that release hot, chemical-rich fluid into the water. This water, heated by the earth below, can support wild ocean ecosystems.

Ocean explorers took this 30-day trip to the East Pacific Rise (off Central America) aboard the ship Falkor (also), a vessel operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, an organization that researches the seas. This is the first time scientists have successfully peered into what might be hiding beneath hydrothermal vents.

“Using an underwater robot, the research team turned over chunks of volcanic crust, revealing cave systems filled with worms, snails and chemosynthetic bacteria living in water at 75 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius),” the institute said in a statement. “The discovery adds a new dimension to hydrothermal vents, showing that their habitats exist both above and below the seafloor.”

A deep-sea octopus found over 8,200 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

A deep-sea octopus found over 8,200 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Credit: ROV SuBastian / Schmidt Ocean Institute

The underwater robot ROV SuBastian uses a metal rod to pull up pieces of ocean crust and reveal tiny caves teeming with life.

The underwater robot ROV SuBastian uses a metal rod to pull up pieces of ocean crust and reveal tiny caves teeming with life.
Credit: ROV SuBastian / Schmidt Ocean Institute

Specimens of deep-sea tubeworms collected by the ROV SuBastian and returned to the surface for examination.

Specimens of deep-sea tubeworms collected by the ROV SuBastian and returned to the surface for examination.
Credit: Monika Naranjo / Schmidt Ocean Institute

An amazing deep-sea giant

Giant phantom jellies do not sting their prey. They wrap around them – with arms 30 feet long.

Deep-water researchers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s vast vessel captured rare footage of a giant phantom jelly in Costa Rican waters. They used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to film the eerie ocean animal.

“#GiantPhantomJelly are rarely seen so we were extremely happy to see this beauty in the waters off Costa Rica yesterday,” the non-profit research organization published on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “[With] their diet – and the fact that they live in a midnight zone away from humans – there is no need to fear this great and delicate ghostly giant.”

These creatures typically live at a depth of 3,300 to 13,100 feet (1,000 to 4,000 meters) below the surface, an area aptly named the “midnight zone.”

Dumbo the “Ghostly” Octopus

Marine explorers Ocean Exploration Trust launched a robot into the deep sea northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. They captured this remarkable octopus.

“Looking suitably ‘spooky’ to our ROV Hercules’ camera, our Research Corps spotted this cephalopod hovering above the ROV Hercules while exploring the ocean floor at a depth of 1,682 meters (5,518 feet, 920 fathoms) on an unnamed seamount in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument,” the research team wrote. “Watch this fan-favorite deep-sea creature float delicately in front of our camera, reminding us of the beauty of this special place.”

A mysterious deep-sea predator

In the remote Pacific Ocean, near Kingman Reef, the Ocean Exploration Trust also came across only the second scientific sighting of this “mysterious gelatinous creature”.

“No, it’s not a face hugger from the Alien movies you see on your screen, but it sure is weird!” they wrote.

It turns out that the organism is an as yet undescribed species of jellyfish within the genus Batikor.

“You never know what we’ll find when we explore the deep ocean in remote Pacific islands!” added the ocean explorers.

Ocean research organizations are already diligently documenting and mapping the deep sea. Scientists want to shed light—literally and figuratively—on what’s down there. The implications of the knowledge are incalculable, especially as deep-sea mineral prospectors prepare to launch industrial equipment, much like tanks, through parts of the seabed. For example, research expeditions have found that ocean life holds great potential for new drugs. “Systematic searches for new drugs show that marine invertebrates produce more antibiotic, anticancer and anti-inflammatory substances than any group of terrestrial organisms.” notes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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