Just when you think the world can’t get any surprise you any more, you learn that there are sharks swimming around in a volcano. Truth really is stranger than fiction: Syfy brought us Sharknado and then the universe counters with Sharkcano, otherwise known as Kavachi. This very, very active volcano off the Solomon Islands is 60 feet underwater, and sharks and rays have apparently been hanging out in its caldera between eruptions.
It’s a dangerous place though. “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.”
So the team strategically deployed their instruments—including disposable robots, underwater cameras, and National Geographic’s deep-sea Drop Cam—to get a broad look at the whole volcano, including what the bottom looks like. Their biggest surprise was that hammerheads and silky sharks showed up on their deep-sea Drop Cam footage—in numbers. …
“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,” Phillips says. “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? It is so black and white when you see a human being not able to get anywhere near where these sharks are able to go.”
Despite the fact that Kavachi was not actively erupting, the video shows carbon dioxide and methane gas bubbles rising from the seafloor vents, and the water appearing in different colors due to reduced iron and sulfur.
Cue the delighted squeals of scientists having their minds blown — and the terrified screams of everyone else within 100 miles of Kavachi.
That this news comes at the end of Discovery Channel’s much-maligned and marveled-at Shark Week is just another little trick-or-treat from the Universe. After the series came under fire for unfair and un-factual treatment of sharks in the past, it’s almost like reality and reality TV agreed to meet in the middle this year: Yes, Discovery portrays sharks as ruthless, bloodthirsty monsters — but there have been a record number of (largely explicable and by no means panic-worthy) shark attacks in North Carolina this year. And while “Mega Shark” might have been a little misleading, scientists just found REAL SHARKS in a REAL VOLCANO. Life, you’ve really outdone yourself this time.