It’s not an unusual sight out in the ocean: blue whales slurping up clouds of krill. But researchers most often have a boat’s eye view for this event. Now new drone footage from Oregon State University is giving them a whole new perspective on how these massive creatures, the largest animals on the planet, catch their dinner.
In 2009, Kerry McPhail descended Jacques Cousteau-style towards the Axial Volcano, inside the cramped, 30-year-old little submarine DSV Alvin, with a pilot and another scientist. Three hundred miles off the coast of Oregon, they were collecting tubeworms, bacterial mats and bivalves living near a deep sea volcanic vent. These samples could potentially yield new pharmaceutical compounds—and in turn, new chemical cures and desperately needed antibiotics that are yet undiscovered.
For the past three weeks, biologists aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorerhave been investigating marine sanctuaries in the American Samoan region of the Pacific. They’ve found a smattering of weird and dazzling creatures, reminding us just how little we know about life at the bottom of the ocean.
As climate change worsens around the world, its affects are increasingly being observed. One notable affect has been the disappearance of five Solomon Islands in the West Pacific due to rising sea levels.