While many scientists spend their days trying to find life on other planets there is still plenty to discover on our own. A new expedition has how discovered the longest animal ever recorded. This highlights the incredible life that we are still unaware of on our own planet and the work that must be done to go places that we have never been before.
According to the National Ocean Service, only 5% of the oceans have been explored and chartered on Earth today. The majority of the deep seas are still a mystery to everyone. One organization in Australia is trying to change that. The Schmidt Ocean Institute is a nonprofit company with the aim of exploring the deepest oceans. The company was set up in 2009 and operates a research vessel all year round.
Recently the institute acquired an underwater robot that can travel to 4,500 meters under sea level. The robot allows visual exploration of places that people have never seen before and can collect samples from these deep-water locations. The institute promises to make all findings available to the public at no cost and are happy to make the ship and the underwater robot available to the scientific community when required.
The latest expedition saw the team explore the Ningaloo canyons. They took part in this research with a number of universities and institutes. In total, they made 20 dives in the canyons recording over 180 hours of exploration.
While the team expected to find a rich amount of biodiversity in the deep ocean they were shocked by the vast number of species that they found. These 20 dives have changed their understanding and knowledge on a wide number of species and produced a number of new records.
One of the most significant finds is believed to hold the record for the longest animal in the world. During the expedition, the team found a 150-foot long siphonophore. A siphonophore is a marine organism that looks like a gelatinous string or worm. It is closely related to jellyfish although while a siphonophore appears to be an individual organism it is actually a colonial organism where individual zooids clone themselves thousands of times. These remarkable creatures had been found up to 40 meters in the past. The new specimen is 46 meters long and is a world record holder.
The investigation also found 30 new underwater species. Many of the species discovered will now be put on display at the Western Australian Museum. These will include a bioluminescent squid that had never been seen near Australian waters before, as well as new species of glass sponges and barnacles.
Scientists have said that the discoveries are of huge significance in better understanding our ocean ecosystems. Our world is so deeply interconnected that while the deep-sea may seem like a world of its own it actually has meaningful implications for the rest of the world. By exploring these deepwater canyons researchers will have a greater understanding of our planet that could impact life on land in a huge way. New discoveries may be found that impact our medicine and our treatment of the wider environment.
Every one of the dives was live-streamed and you can still view many of the videos as well as highlights on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Youtube page. These videos while incredibly important for scientific record offer a unique opportunity for anyone to see what sea life is like deep underwater.
The research found to date is only the beginning of the underwater discoveries that will take place. The longer this vessel and other vessels like it operate, the more that will be discovered.