Bizarre deep-sea creatures imaged off New Zealand for the first time
Builder’s Pencil, which spans 180,000 square meters off New Zealand’s eastern coast, is one of the largest seep sites in the world. Recently, a joint US/New Zealand research team studying the area photographed and videotaped - for the first time! - a variety of unusual deep-sea creatures, such as the hard-to-pronounce Vestimentiferan worm. Dwelling up to 1 kilometer below the waves, these unusual animals are capable of converting energy-rich chemicals from the nearby methane vents into living matter in the absence of sunlight.
After mapping the sea floor via sonar, the researchers lowered video and still cameras into the deep, dark waters. In addition to the worms, the scientists captured footage of hermit crabs, glass sponges, tube worms, and more. If you want to see what the creatures look like, select footage from the expedition has been uploaded to YouTube. Admittedly, much of the footage features sea floor punctuated by strobe flashes. However, I think you’ll be amazed with the clarity of the footage. Moreover, I’m impressed that scientists are using popular culture to spread their message. Rock on, you deep-sea scientists!