Oceanography

Ocean oxygen loss may ultimately reverse

Ocean deoxygenation has detrimental repercussions. Fish, crabs and other significant species of marine life that are unable to flee these low oxygen zones may perish as a result. People who depend on them for food and employment may be subsequently impacted by their absence as many of these species are economically significant.

Additionally, there is a negative feedback loop at play: as ocean oxygen levels decline, so does its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. This may cause global warming to accelerate even further.

Scientists discover pristine deep-sea coral reefs

Observations using the newly upgraded human-occupied vehicle Alvin are the first of a deep-sea coral reef in the Galåpagos Marine Reserve.  The reef, found at 400-600 meters (1,310-1,970 feet) depth at the summit of a previously unmapped seamount in the central part of the archipelago, supports a breathtaking mix of deep marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution writes.

A deep-sea batfish
A deep-sea batfish

New species discovered off Western Australia

While on a mission to map the volcanic geography of Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park off Western Australia, researchers aboard the vessel Investigator also surveyed the deep-sea life in the Indian Ocean Territories.

In doing so, they came face-to-face with many fascinating, and some previously unknown, species.

Besides filming videos of the vast marine life amidst the summits of seamounts, the team also collected specimens from depths as deep as five kilometres below the surface.

We have discovered an amazing number of potentially new species living in this remote marine park

Dr Tim O’Hara, Chief Scientist of the expedition and Senior Curator, Marine Inveterbrates at Museums Victoria Research Institute

During the expedition, the researchers had been sharing their discoveries with more than 850 school students and community members in Australia through real-time livestreaming.

The expedition was a collaboration between Museums Victoria Research Institute and CSIRO, in partnership with Bush Blitz, Parks Australia, Australian Museum Research Institute and the Western Australian Museum.

A gummy squirrel (Psychropotes longicauda) - one of the new species discovered
A gummy squirrel (Psychropotes longicauda) - one of the new species discovered

More than 35 new deep-sea species discovered

More than 35 potentially new deep-sea species have been discovered at the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the central Pacific. 

Ranging from starfish and segmented worms to sea cucumbers and various types of coral, these specimens were collected using a remotely operated vehicle.

In total, 55 benthic specimens were collected from seamounts and abyssal plains. Of these, 39 were found to be potentially new to science, with nine that were referable to known species. 

The dive was piloted by Victor Vescovo, undersea explorer and founder of the ocean research company Caladan Oceanic, with Dr. Dawn Wright as mission sonar specialist.
The dive was piloted by Victor Vescovo, undersea explorer and founder of the ocean research company Caladan Oceanic, with Dr. Dawn Wright as mission sonar specialist.

Expedition Reaches the Deepest Point on Earth, Challenger Deep

The dive was piloted by Victor Vescovo, undersea explorer and founder of the ocean research company Caladan Oceanic, with Dr. Dawn Wright (Chief Scientist at Esri) as mission sonar specialist. The expedition was again led and coordinated by expedition leader Rob McCallum, founder of EYOS Expeditions.

Wright supported the dive with her expertise in marine geology and the company's geospatial technology and became one of the few individuals – and the first Black person – to visit Challenger Deep.

Explorer Victor Vescovo (left), Founder of Caladan Oceanic, along with Dr Osvaldo Ulloa, Director of the Instituto Milenio de Oceanografia (IMO), have completed the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench
Explorer Victor Vescovo (left), Founder of Caladan Oceanic, along with Dr Osvaldo Ulloa, Director of the Instituto Milenio de Oceanografia (IMO), have completed the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench

First-ever crewed dive into Atacama Trench

On 21 January 2022, two men dived the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench, the deepest trench in the southeastern Pacific.

This feat saw explorer Victor Vescovo, Founder of Caladan Oceanic, and Osvaldo Ulloa from Instituto Milenio de Oceanografia (IMO) descending to 8,069m below sea level, in the submersible Limiting Factor. This dive was the first in the Chilean leg of the Ring of Fire Pt 2 (2022) expedition.

Striking Hydrothermal vents, chimneys, and mirror pools, with large population of tubeworms in the JaichaMaa' ja' ag vent field.
Striking Hydrothermal vents, chimneys, and mirror pools, with large population of tubeworms in the JaichaMaa' ja' ag vent field.

Hydrothermal vents and possible new species discovered in Gulf of California

The hydrothermal vents are located in the Pescadero basin and are unique both in their chemistry and appearance to other known hydrothermal vents, as they are the only ones currently observed to emit clear fluids as opposed to dark, smokey fluids associated with iconic “black smoker” vents.

Indigenous names

The largest of the new vent mounds, named Maija awi, sits midway between the JaichaMaa ‘ja’ag vent field, discovered by the same team during Schmidt Ocean Institute’s 2018 R/V Falkor expedition, and the Auka vent field, discovered during an expedition by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in 2015.

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The black lava sand is one of the characteristics of Bali. It makes the colour of these nudibranchs stand out too.

Why are the Balinese waters so rich?

It all starts east of the Philippines where the constant blowing of the tradewinds and the ocean currents forces huge masses of water up against the Philippines, where it is trapped and forced southwards. 

Most of this current is directed by ocean bottom morphology to flow into the Sulawesi basin and down between Borneo and Sulawesi—the fat red arrow on the figure above. The only thing sitting in this giant current’s way is the lesser Sunda Islands, predominantly Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Timor—with Bali sitting right in the ideal position to benefit from this flow.

Eddies—whirlpools within currents—transport plankton downward from the ocean surface. Satellite image shows the Atlantic, west of Iceland, with patches of blooming plankton

Plankton blooms get sucked into the abyss by eddies

Scientists used a float to follow a patch of seawater off Iceland. They observed the progression of the bloom by taking measurements from multiple platforms. Autonomous gliders outfitted with sensors were used to gather data such as temperature, salinity and information about the chemistry and biology of the bloom—oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll and the optical signatures of the particulate matter.

At the onset of the bloom and over the next month, four teardrop-shaped sea gliders will gather 774 profiles to depths of up to 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).