A new jellyfish species, the hydromedusa jellyfish, glides through the deepest ocean trench with its two sets of short and long tentacles. Whenever it spots an unsuspecting prey and moves in for the kill, it keeps its long tentacles extended outward, its bell quite motionless.
This interesting creature is just one of the fascinating findings of a team from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose live video streams document the wild, wonderful, and largely unexplored deep waters of the world.
The NOAA team is currently conducting research on the geology and deep-sea ecosystems found at the Mariana Archipelago, with a towering goal of exploring the 1,500-mile long, 43-mile wide Mariana Trench.
The trench’s depth is not one to be ignored: even if Mt. Everest were to be shoved down this trench, its peak would still be over a mile underwater.
This leads to its rich vat of secrets, which the NOAA and its partner groups are collecting and sharing to the public from April 20 to July 10 through live streams and images from the Okeanos Explorer.
"Despite decades of previous work in the region, much of the [Mariana Trench marine national] monument and surrounding areas remain unexplored," said the NOAA, expecting to discover bottomfish habitats, previously unknown hydrothermal vent sites, mud volcanoes, seamounts, and deep-sea coral and sponge communities in the coming months.
The unearthed facts and creatures so far prove to be fascinating.
Apart from the mesmerizing jellyfish living about 2.3 miles deep, there are various fishes living within pillow basalts, which form when basalt lava erupts underwater. When cold seawater "chills" the erupting lava, it creates a rounded tube of basalt crust resembling a pillow, with scratches on the pillow surface called striations.
A video capture, for instance, revealed a deep-sea anglerfish living within these pillow basalts. The creature has a round lure in between the eyes, waiting to get its prey attracted to the lure before quickly capturing them in a gulp using its big mouth.
Scientists onboard the mission – now scouring the monument about 12,090 feet just east of the Philippines – also provide commentary and point out exciting things to be seen.
Twenty minutes of viewing, for instance, allowed a peek into a starfish, two spongers, a holothurian sea cucumber showing off "incredible color," some unidentified "sediment-dweller," a tripod fish sans tripods, and up to three separate types of anemones, to name a few.
"It’s been a great sponge day. We’ve learned a lot," a scientist known only as Kelley told the about 2,900 people streaming the feed via YouTube.
While plenty still awaits to be discovered, humans already made significant headways in their Mariana journey. In December 2014, University of Aberdeen researchers filmed a new kind of snailfish at a 26,722-mile depth, which set a world record for the deepest fish anywhere.
In 2012, filmmaker James Cameron safely returned from his one-man mission almost 6.8 miles into the trench onboard 12-ton submarine Deepsea Challenger.
And who would have thought that the deepest part of the ocean is still a noisy place, with a cacophony of sounds some 36,000 feet down?
See the location of the ship in real-time here. Passionate underwater exploration enthusiasts, too, can download the mobile app that delivers the action directly to one's smartphone or tablet.