Hundreds of feet below the ocean surface, where the sun no longer shines, a team of New England-based researchers is shining a light on the alien life of “The Twilight Zone.”
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s remote Mesobot recently captured rare views of the deep sea life at the Geologist Seamounts near Hawaii.
Ocean creatures like Hatchet fish, whitetip sharks and swordfish can be seen drifting out of the dense gloom in video shared by the WHOI.
The Mesobot is currently aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust ship Nautilus alongside researchers from the OET, WHOI, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Rhode Island.
The researchers use sonar data to locate dense patches of marine life that migrate to the depths during the day.
“These twilight zone organisms make up the largest animal migration on Earth and help the ocean regulate global climate by moving carbon from surface waters to the deep ocean where it can remain sequestered from the atmosphere for centuries or millennia,” said the WHOI.
The WHOI says the following organisms can be seen in the video above:
|Time (Minutes, Seconds)
|Siphonophore coming up from the bottom of the screen (orange tentacles visible), likely Nanomia (specific type of siphonophore)
|Siphonophore coming into focus in the middle of the screen. As they approach the orange within the body becomes visible. Specific type unavailable.
|00:29 - 00:49
|Salp chain with individuals salps swimming around. Likely Salpa aspera, which is a migrating salp. Krill also visible darting through
|Oceanic whitetip shark, with pilot fish swimming under it. These are fairly rare and are found in the open ocean. Not a lot of footage exists of these sharks.
|01:00 - 01:11
|More individual salps and a salp chain–it is common to see both of these life stages at one time.
|Long thin swimming creature in the center of the screen is likely a leptocephalus larvae or eel larvae
|Corkscrew swimming creature in top left is a siphonophore (not close enough to ID)
|More individual salps
|Salp chain appears from the bottom left corner
|Another salp chain, likely not Ssalpa aspera, but difficult to confirm.
|Another salp chain, apparently the same as the previous clip, likely not Salpa aspera
|Pearl side (Maurolicus)--same family as hatchetfish
|Fish (ID uncertain)
|Siphonophore in visible left
|Broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
|Ink cloud from passing squid
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