Unreal ‘Mud Monsters’ of the Deep Sea Caught on Camera

An acorn worm observed at a dive spot called Twin Peaks (NOAA)

Unique animals captured on film make for an unbelievable scientific expedition — including deep-sea shrimp, trunked sponges, hitchhiking anemones, and ghastly lizard fish. 

In early spring of 2016 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched the Deep Discoverer (D2),  one of its remotely operated deep-sea filming vehicles (ROVs). The purpose of the expedition was to explore areas within the Mariana Trench, the deepest accessible ocean location on earth.

The Mariana Trench is situated in the western Pacific Ocean, bordered to the west by the Mariana Islands. The arcing valley exceeds depths of 35,000ft and a width of more than 40 miles.

The Deep Discoverer encountered a muddy volcanic region known as Twin Peaks situated at about 16,000ft below the ocean’s surface and unearthed a plethora of unique creatures persisting in the muddy seafloor sediment.

Image: NOAA

The findings are highlighted by a vast variety of colorful crustaceans and animals, including a purple shaded blobby acorn worm, lanky isopod, and beautifully flowing sea cucumber that floats effortlessly through the dark sea depths.

Image: NOAA

The most exciting discovery of all was a minuscule filter-feeding shrimp, assumed to belong to the species Bathystylodactylus bathyalis, serving as the only whole specimen of its kind ever before seen. This shrimp has been labeled the deepest living shrimp in the ocean to date.

The high definition camera attached to the ROV allowed for extensive visual data collection so precise as to capture the tiny hairs encompassing the shrimp’s forelegs.

The study authors stated that the shrimp was “presumably using its legs as a net to capture passing particles,” as reported by Live Science.

Watch the full video below:

Full details of the expedition are published in the journal ZooKeys.