In the summer of 2017, a team of scientists led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ventured a thousand kilometers off the coast of Brazil to explore the seafloor around a little-known cluster of islets called St. Paul’s Rocks. One of those scientists, Diva Amon, a deep-sea biologist from the Natural History Museum of London, describes what it’s like to venture into a dark, unknown world 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) below the surface—and why this type of research is key to understanding and protecting our oceans.
While the deep ocean below 200 meters (650 feet) represents 70 percent of the habitable space of the planet, Amon tells me that less than 1 percent of it has been explored. The largest animal communities and the majority of biomass on the planet live there. And the threats they face are many. Pollution, trawl-fishing, mining, and climate change all put this environment and the estimated 750,000 undiscovered species down there at risk.
“We could be destroying the deep ocean habitat, and its inhabitants, before we even know what’s there,” says Amon. “I think it’s imperative to document it all while we still can.”
Previously on the Alucia: 1000m beneath the Antarctic ice, where no human has gone before. Plus: Discovering A Second Species of Giant Manta Ray, Dr. Sylvia Earle, world-renowned oceanographer and explorer, and When Your Job Is Saving The Ocean.