A few years ago, ocean engineer Brennan Phillips and a team of researchers found sharks and other ocean life living inside an active volcano. Is this the plot of the new Sharknado movie or real life? You may be surprised that the answer is real life.
Originally, the team went down to study hydrothermal activity. In order to do this, they took video footage 147 feet underwater in the crater of the active volcano, Kavachi. Their hope was to learn a little more about the geology of underwater craters.
When they went below the surface, they were amazed as to what they found. Their mission shifted gears when they found life in the active volcano. They were shocked that they found life because of the crater's hot and acidic environment.
Because of the dangerous conditions inside of the volcano, the team couldn’t actually venture into the water themselves. Instead, the researchers dropped cameras into the crater for an hour at a time. This is how they found out what was living deep beneath the surface.
During one of the drops, the camera reached 147 feet and that is when they saw two different shark species. They also found a stingray, a snapper fish and some other marine life. After they announced the finding, scientists were surprised that anything can live in such harsh conditions.
They first discovered the the sixgill stingray. Then as the camera dropped they saw a scalloped hammerhead shark, a silky shark and snapper fish. They also found jellyfish and other small marine life in the mix.
In an interview with Carolyn Barnwell at National Geographic, Phillips explained why the researchers were so surprised to find life. “These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water. It makes you question what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to.”
Kavachi volcano is also known as ejo te Kvachi meaning "Kavachi's Oven." This shallow submarine volcano is located south of the Vangunu Island in the Solomones. It is one of the most active volcanos in the Pacific with near surface eruptions every few years.
The first reports of its activity were recorded in 1939. There have been at least 11 significant eruptions since the late 1970s. Two of the eruptions, one in 1976 and another in 1991, were so powerful they created new islands.
At least nine new islands have been formed since the volcanoes first recorded eruption in 1939. The islands formed were not large enough to resist wave erosion. Because of this, they have all submerged since they formed.
So how do they survive down there under these conditions? When you watch the footage, you see the camera plunge down below into the plume of the volcano. When you see the cloudy water down below, you can’t help but wonder how anything could survive down there at all.
In the video, Phillips admits that he has many questions himself after the discovery of the animals in the active volcano: "Do they leave? Do they have some sort of sign that it's about to erupt? Do they blow up sky-high in little bits?"
15. New Game Plan
Originally, the researchers started their search with one question. Now they have many. It looks like they will have to keep researching and exploring in order to answer the questions. Lucky for us Phillips and his team are up for the task. Watch the video above to see the footage of the expedition.