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.
With files from the CBC's Curt Petrovich