Just when you thought the anglerfish is as weird as it gets, nature takes us even deeper into the abyss of its mysteries. For starters, a strangely ethereal violet sea cucumber:
This is just one of the numerous footages captured by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer during its deepwater exploration around the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument from 20 April to 10 July 2016.
These incredible footages revealed previously undiscovered deep sea creatures, many of which have stumped scientists.
Here’s an extremely rare and unusual acorn worm. Source
This ghostly eel-like fish with transparent, gelatinous skin was seen alive for the first time. Source
An anemone living on this parapagurid hermit crab actually secretes a “shell” for the crab, which it inhabits instead of a gastropod shell that most hermit crabs call home. Source
A basket star, with commensal ophiuroids, believed to be a new species. Source
What is the Mariana Trench
The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world’s oceans. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands near Japan. The trench is about 2,550km long with an average width of 69km. It reaches a maximum known depth of approximately 11km at a small slot-shaped valley in its floor known as the Challenger Deep. This is even deeper than the depth of an inverted Mount Everest.
At such punishing depths, extreme ecosystems and life forms have been discovered by scientists over the years, including vents bubbling up liquid sulfur and carbon dioxide, active mud volcanoes and marine life adapted to pressures 1,000 times that at sea level.
Even Hollywood director James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame has explored the Mariana Trench. On March 26, 2012, he piloted a manned submersible to the Challenger Deep where he collected samples and documented the experience. You can read about his epic expedition here.
Check out more strange sea creatures discovered during the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas here