An eternal question of what is hiding on the ocean’s deepest levels is starting to get answered soon. The research team of the vessel RV Investigator committed to a month-long expedition where they were exploring the abyss east of Australian coast for the first time ever.
Museums Victoria senior curator Tim O’Hara said that the abyss is the largest habitat on the entire planet. It covers a third of Australia’s territory and half of the world’s oceans. Despite that, it still remains as one of the most unexplored territories on the planet.
This was not an easy mission for the researchers seeing that the exploration zone is 4,000 meters deep. It is actually so deep that light cannot penetrate it and obviously, the temperatures are amazingly low. On top of that, the pressure at that depth is capable of crushing a human being so evidently, the exploration is slow but steady. The sample collected from the bottom is not big, but considering the unknowns, there is a lot that can and will be learned from it.
According to O’Hara, the information gathered from this exploration will be essential for science to understand the creatures inhabiting the deep sea, including their biodiversity and eco processes that are in place so they can thrive. This data will go a long way in providing effective conservation strategies and minimizing the climate change effects.
The research team mapped the abyss floor with a multibeam sonar. This allowed them to send gear that is meant to collect samples without the danger of destroying it on the rocks. The collecting gear brought back over 1,000 different species out of which over 300 are completely unknown to us.
Considering that the creatures brought to the surface have been living in freezing temperatures and complete darkness, it is expected that they are a bit grotesque looking.
However, the visual appeal of those species is not the shocking thing. The shock came from the fact that the ocean floor seems to contain a high level of rubbish that has been piling up for more than 200 years. The research team found bottles, PVC pipes, wood chips, beer cans and a multitude of other rubbish. It is hoped that this information will resonate far and will result in the change in collective attitudes concerning the rubbish disposal worldwide.