When scientists sent a robotic camera down into the Kavachi – a very active underwater volcano in the Soloman Islands – there was no way they could have prepared for what they found inside: sharks.
More specifically, a Pacific sleeper shark, hammerhead sharks, and silky sharks (plus some bonus marine life) living happily inside a dangerous, acidic, super-heated environment.
The reaction of the scientific team, according to University of Rhode Island PhD student Brennan Phillips, was shock. They were “freaking out,” basically, but after they had time to adjust, questions abounded – mostly having to do with exactly how these animals were surviving (and thriving) inside.
“Divers who have gotten close to the outer edge of the volcano have had to back away because of how hot it is or because they were getting mild skin burns from the acid water,” Phillips said. “These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water, and they’re just hanging out. It makes you question what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to. What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it?
We still have more questions than answers, but for now, there’s something beautiful about animals who have found a way to live happily where no human could possibly get to them. Isn’t there?