Researchers film wild deep sea creatures near Galapagos Islands

Extreme living conditions make for some wacky animals.


Cynthia McKelvey

Internet Culture

Published Jun 16, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:47 pm CDT

The E/V Nautilus keeps churning out fascinating videos of sea life and ocean research.

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This week, it debuted a video on YouTube showing three bizarre creatures encountered on an exploration of deep sea thermal vents off the coast of the Galapagos Islands (near Ecuador.)

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Deep sea hydrothermal vents are areas of the sea floor where hot gases rise up from below the Earth’s crust. Their discovery in 1977 showed scientists that life can exist even in the harshest conditions. Around these hydrothermal vents, temperatures can reach 750º F and there’s limited oxygen. Instead, bacteria living near the vents converts the harmful gases expelled by the underwater geysers into more usable compounds that the highly specialized animals living in the area can eat and breathe.

Deep sea creatures are something of a mystery to science, as we’ve seen before. Given the great expense and challenge of deep sea exploration, many of the species of animals researchers encounter are totally new to science or not well described and understood.

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But one of the animals the Nautilus saw was the flamboyant squid worm, originally discovered in 2007. This little freakazoid floating into view at the 1:17-mark is pretty cool because researchers think that it might be a “transitional” animal caught in a major evolutionary shift as the species’ moves from one habitat to another.

No idea on the other animals though.

Screengrab via EVNautilus/YouTube

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*First Published: Jun 16, 2015, 9:22 pm CDT