A team of scientists from Museums Victoria, in collaboration with CSIRO and other Australian and international museums and research agencies, discovered a bunch of weird and freaky animals loitering in an almost unexplored region of Australia's eastern abyss.
According to a report from the National Geographic, the discovery was part of the month-long deep-sea research voyage known as "Sampling the Abyss." Some of the weird animals they uncovered include a penis-shaped "peanut worms," a blob fish, a coffen fish, zombie worms, a cookie cutter shark, a giant sea spider, a Ferrari- red crab, bioluminescent sea stars, carnivorous sponges, a shortarse feelerfish, flesh-eating crustaceans, a faceless fish and a herd of sea pigs.
"The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet, covering half the world's oceans and one third of Australia's territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth," said Dr Tim O'Hara, Museums Victoria's Senior Curator, Marine Invertebrates and Chief Scientist of Sampling the Abyss, in a press release. "We know that abyssal animals have been around for at least 40 million years, but until recently only a handful of samples had been collected from Australia's abyss."
The abyss is a region known for its extreme conditions. Due to the region's crushing pressure, freezing temperatures, darkness and limited resources, animals living in the abyss evolved in a highly unique way in order to survive. This made the animals look weird and unsightly.
Aside from collecting specimens of abyss animals, the research voyage also investigated the amount of pollution in the sea floor and level of microplastics on the ocean's surface. The researchers observed that the seafloor is full of garbage and waste, including PVC pipes, woodchips, beer cans, plastic bottles and cans of paints. They estimate that there are 200 years of trash in the ocean floor. Some of trash even belong to the era of steamships.
A total of 58 people joined the research voyage. Among those, 40 are scientists and museum curators, while the others are technicians and crew members of the Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator.
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