We've often written about how mysterious the deep ocean is. And it's true. We know so little about the other underwater world that exists on our own planet—the 'alien' habitats that share Earth with us.
Usually though, we've discussed the strange animals that live in these dark places. But, as a recent study from researchers at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia proves, the land formations in these spots are just as unknown.
High places deep below
CSIRO just announced that it has used seafloor mapping to find an incredible series of volcanic seamounts, or undersea mountains. They are located around 400 kilometres off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, and they are big. Each of them stands around 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) above the ocean floor.
In case you're having trouble picturing this, that's around as tall as Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon and one of the highest peaks in the Cascade Mountains.
So if they're so tall, why haven't we noticed them before, you ask? Well, the ocean floor is 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) deep there. In other words, the tops of these giant mountains are still about two whole kilometres (approximately one mile) underwater.
“The seamounts vary in size and shape," said Dr. Tara Martin of CSIRO in a statement, "with some having sharp peaks while others have wide flat plateaus, dotted with small conical hills that would have been formed by ancient volcanic activity.”
Talk about a stunning underwater world!
Now if you're thinking that since the tops of these mighty marine mountains are a mile below they have no effect on the surface, think again.
Scientists have also found that the area above these volcanic peaks is teeming with phytoplankton. These microscopic lifeforms are one of the basic parts of ocean food chains. And where you find lots of them, you'll usually find lots of other animals, too.
Sure enough, the researchers said that the waters were full of dozens of humpback and pilot whales, as well as seabirds. The teams plans to return later this year to improve their understanding of the area.
“This is a very diverse landscape and will undoubtedly be a biological hotspot that supports a dazzling array of marine life,” said Dr. Martin.
We're thrilled to see what else they uncover about this popular aqualife hangout!