Sharks in a volcano sounds like a death trap a Bond villain might cook up. But that’s exactly what scientists recently discovered in the South Pacific.
These sharks were filmed by Brennan Phillips and his research team inside the Kavachi, an active submarine volcano near the Solomon Islands.
Phillips, a biological oceanography Ph.D. student from the Unversity of Rhode Island, dropped a specialized camera into Kavachi at 147 feet below the surface.
While the volcano was not erupting at the time, the conditions of the crater seemed unlikely to support life, with the water being acidic, scalding hot, and choked with ash. The team only expected to collect data on geology and hydrothermal activity.
But even in the most unlivable places, life finds a way. Hauling up the camera after an hour of filming, the researchers reviewed the footage to find jellyfish, stingray and some small fish.
But it was the sight of scalloped hammerhead and silky sharks that truly excited the researchers. Despite the extreme environment, the sharks and the other sea life seemed right at home.
The presence of large animals like sharks within an active volcano perplexed the scientists. The discovery raises questions on why the sharks hang out in Kavachi, or how the animals react to an eruption.
“Do they leave?” Phillips asked “Do they have some sign that it’s about to erupt? Do they blow up sky-high in little bits?”
Getting to the bottom of that mystery, and many others, excites Phillips.
“That’s the best project, is to go out with one question and come back with many,” he said. “And that’s exactly what happened here.”