The deepest part of our world’s oceans, the Mariana Trench, continues to give up its spooky secrets thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition. Running from April 20 to July 10, 2016, the scientific exploration of the sea floor will see NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and its remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer making daily dives from 250 to 6,000 meters deep. (That’s impressive, but it’s still only about half as deep as the seven-mile maximum-known depth point known as Challenger Deep.) The campaign has already brought us video of a beautiful jellyfish in motion and continues to share video, images, and a wealth of knowledge with citizens and scientists alike.
Gizmodo has gathered some of those images together, showing off bizarre creatures like blind deep-sea lobsters, the Chimaera ghostshark, the “dreaded head” of the Gorgonocephalus basket stars, flower-like crinoids, and a swimming deep-sea holuthurian (or sea cucumber). This last one you really have to see in motion, so luckily there are video archives of all of the oddities the expedition comes across available for your viewing pleasure. You might even catch a new discovery as it happens by watching one of three live-streams from the ongoing exploration.
Keep in mind that this ROV is operating at depths that experience over 1,000 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level and temperatures of 1 to 4 °C, with the even more impressive realization that the critters of those depths are thriving under the same conditions. In addition to getting acquainted with the weird organisms that live in one of the world’s most extreme environments, the expedition also seeks to explore “bottomfish habitats, new hydrothermal vent sites, mud volcanoes, deep-sea coral and sponge communities, and seamounts, as well as subduction zone and trench areas.”
Take a look at some of the weirder discoveries to come out of the ocean’s depths in our image gallery below.
Images: NOAA, Gizmodo