Featuring C-DEBI Co-I Geoff Wheat.
We know more about the surface of the moon that we do about the bottom of the ocean. The sea floor is an alien landscape, with crushing pressure, near-total darkness, and fluids wafting from cracks in the Earth’s crust. It’s also home to some weird animals that scientists are only just getting to know. Case in point: deep-sea expeditions and drones have revealed a giant group of octopuses and their eggs in a place where they shouldn’t be able to survive. “When I first saw the photos, I was like ‘No, they shouldn’t be there! Not that deep and not that many of them,” says Janet Voight, associate curator of zoology at the Field Museum and an author of a new study on the octopuses published in Deep Sea Research Part I. Nearly two miles deep in the ocean, a hundred miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, scientists during two cruises a year apart used subsea vehicles to explore the Dorado Outcrop, a rocky patch of sea floor made of cooled and hardened lava from an underwater volcano. Geochemists explored the outcrop in a tiny submersible vehicle, hoping to collect samples of the warm fluids that emerge from cracks in the rocks; they didn’t count on finding dozens of octopuses huddled around the cracks.