A teenager in Ukraine has unexpectedly helped scientists in Victoria, B.C., make a rare discovery.
Earlier this month, Kirill Dudko, 14, was watching a live stream of cameras on the ocean floor when he saw something unusual — a female elephant seal eating a hagfish.
Researcher Kim Juniper says an email from the teen in Donetsk, Ukraine, caused a flurry of excitement.
"Monday morning we had an email from him saying, ‘I saw something strange and weird. Some monster just ate a fish in front of me. What was it?’ And that sent all of us into a bit of a flurry to back this up."
Juniper says it's the first time a seal has ever been recorded eating a hagfish, a creature so slimy other predators spit them out.
Dudko doesn't speak much English, and he was up past his bed time on a school night to explain the story with help from his mother Svetlana.
"I'm very proud of my son," she told CBC News.
The researchers at Neptune Canada — a research project that links an 800-kilometre network of instruments on the ocean floor off Vancouver Island directly to the internet — are also proud of Dudko and are grateful for the boost he's given to citizen science.
"Really this is going to be a life-changing experience for this young man, who only in the last few months has developed this interest in marine biology and now he's off and running," Juniper said.