Yes, this cephalopod is looking at you funny. It’s a kind of cockeyed squid—an animal that looks like some jokester misassembled a Mr. Potato Head. One of the cockeyed squid’s eyes is big, bulging and yellow. The other is flat and beady. After studying more than 25 years’ worth of undersea video footage, scientists think they know why.
Squid and their cephalopod brethren have been the inspiration for many a science fiction creature. Their slippery appendages, huge proportions, and inking abilities can be downright shudder-inducing. (See: Arrival.) But you should probably be more concerned by the cephalopod’s huge brain—which not only helps it solve tricky puzzles, but also lets it converse in its own sign language.
Looking at waves in the open sea with ‘electronic eyes’, so as to reconstruct it in 3D, scientists at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council (Ismar-Cnr) found that exceptionally high waves are more common than previously assumed by theoretical models.
After successfully testing a long-range underwater communications system that worked under Arctic Ocean ice, an engineering team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) adapted it for a very different environment—the tropics—and for a different purpose—to provide warnings of impending tsunamis. While the Arctic sound-signaling system lets researchers communicate with robotic vehicles operating beneath sea ice, the tropical system, tested in 2016 off Indonesia, is designed to relay signals “from an undersea sensor network to shore, where they can be used to estimate the level of the potential tsunami,” said Lee Freitag, the WHOI engineer who led the project.
Behold the hyolith — a bizarre Cambrian-period creature that dwelt on the ocean floor alongside other armored invertebrates like trilobites more than 500 million years ago. Its body was encased in a pair of shells that resembled an ice cream cone with a lid like a trap door. Two tusklike spines protruded from the soft tissue near the hinge, and on top of its mouth was a row of fluttering tentacles. Since its discovery in the 19th century, the hyolith has puzzled paleontologists. Some thought it was a mollusk, like a snail or clam. Others said it belonged to its own group of animals.
Changes in the way that ocean temperatures were measured in recent decades made it look like the oceans were getting cooler, but now independent data has confirmed that this so-called ‘hiatus’ in global warming never actually happened. The cause of the apparent hiatus in rising sea-surface temperatures was first identified in 2015 in a paper in the journal Science by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The paper proved controversial, but since its publication, several studies have backed up the idea that the hiatus didn’t in fact happen. The apparent hiatus has been linked to poor statistical methods, among other factors.
Intense future climate change could have a far different impact on the world than current models predict, suggests a thought-provoking new study just out in the journal Science Advances. If atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to double in the future, it finds, a major ocean current — one that helps regulate climate and weather patterns all over the world — could collapse. And that could paint a very different picture of the future than what we’ve assumed so far. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC, is often described as a large oceanic conveyor belt. It’s a system of water currents that transports warm water northward from the Atlantic toward the Arctic, contributing to the mild climate conditions found in places like Western Europe. In the Northern Atlantic, the northward flowing surface water eventually cools and sinks down toward the bottom of the ocean, and another current brings that cooler water back down south again. The whole process is part of a much larger system of overturning currents that circulates all over the world, from pole to pole.
A geological expedition to the southwest Indian Ocean in November 2011 made a highly unusual find, at least insofar as its own stated goals: six new species of underwater creatures that had never been seen before. A team of researchers, led by Jon Copley of the University of Southampton used a remotely operated vehicle to explore the area the size of a football field at a site called Longqi, or Dragon’s Breath, which is about 1,200 miles southeast of Madagascar and about 2 miles below the ocean surface. Longqi is home to a number of hydrothermal vents, where heat escaping from below the ocean floor attracts a diverse range of deep sea creatures.
A deep sea octopod, dubbed “Casper” after the film ghost because of its appearance, could be at risk from mining, scientists say. The animal, possibly a new species, was discovered last spring at depths of more than 4,000 metres (2.5 miles). Studies suggest females nurture their eggs for several years on parts of the seabed that contain valuable metals.
An otherworldly noise that was recorded near the Mariana Trench could be a never-before-heard whale call. Dubbed the “Western Pacific Biotwang,” this newly discovered call might be from a minke whale — a type of baleen whale — according to the researchers who documented the vocalization. Regardless of what species it is, this whale has range: The call includes sounds that span frequencies that reach as low as 38 hertz and as high as 8,000 hertz. Humans can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz.
Six new animal species have been identified at deep-sea vents beneath the Indian Ocean. The remote area is home to life not seen elsewhere in the world’s oceans, yet has been earmarked for future mineral exploration. Hydrothermal vents form at locations where seawater meets magma. They are surrounded by a large number of organisms that are new to science. The latest finds include worms, snails and a crab.
What may be the largest exposed fault on Earth has been seen and documented by scientists for the first time. The ‘Banda Detachment’ fault in eastern Indonesia would explain a 7.2km (4.4 mile) deep abyss under the Banda Sea, which until now has remained a mystery to geologists. This area where the fault was found sits in the Ring of Fire, an area in the basin of the Pacific ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. Sitting under the Banda Sea is the Weber Deep – the deepest point in our planet’s ocean that does not sit in a trench.