Despite the best efforts of scientists — not to mention James Cameron, Jules Verne and that SeaOrbiter guy — there's still plenty we don't know about the deep sea, mostly because, well, it's just so deep.
One of the deepest spots in the ocean is the New Hebrides trench in the Pacific Ocean, located between the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. This week, scientists reported on their first glimpse of what life is like all the way at the bottom, more than 7,000 metres below the water's surface.
The expedition, carried out at the end of 2013, was spearheaded by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in association with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand. The team used an unmanned vessel fitted with cameras to capture images.
Reasearchers found an ecosystem unlike any they'd seen before. There were giant shrimp, cusk eels and small crustaceans — all of which they expected. But there was also a conspicuous lack of other species that the scientists thought they would see. Specifically, no grenadiers, a deep sea fish found in other parts of the world.
"Anywhere else around the Pacific Rim, around the trenches we've looked at, you see a lot of grenadiers — they are quite a conspicuous part of the deep-sea community," said Dr. Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen. "But when we went to the New Hebrides trench, we didn't see a single one."
Jamieson and his team attribute the lack of grenadiers and other species to the lack of nutrients in the water above the trench. They also now realize that trenches are unique, and that the New Hebrides discovery might not be indicative of deep sea life elsewhere (there are currently more than 30 known deep sea trenches around the world).
"We're starting to find out that what happens at one trench doesn't necessarily represent what happens in all the trenches," said Jamieson.
You can take a look at some of the pictures captured by the underwater camera in the gallery above. And there's also a video, which you can watch here:
Via The Verge