A rover dived to the bottom of the ocean. 15 photos show what it found there.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like miles below the surface of the ocean?
The Mariana Trench is the deepest point in the Earth's oceans, and scientists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are sending cameras down into its depths.
They'll be exploring the deep water around the entire area, from relatively shallow undersea mountains to down in the deep valleys more than six miles underwater. They're scheduled to explore until July 10, 2016, with this incredible camera rover as their eye in the deep.
The ship is equipped with a fast internet connection, so the entire trip is being live-streamed online — meaning that scientists and researchers and fans of weird deep-sea creatures alike can join in the journey via the magic wizardry which is the internet.
Here are just some of the incredible things they've spotted so far:
1. Amazing beauties like this jellyfish
2. Enchanting, fragile deep-sea corals
3. Startlingly flower-like crinoids
Though it looks like a plant, crinoids (also known as sea lilies) are actually distantly related to starfish. I can't decide whether this is beautiful or terrifying. Maybe both? Terror-eautiful?
4. A whole bouquet of them
5. There are whole reefs down here! Complete with sharks!
Despite popular belief, not all coral reefs live up in the shallows.
6. And tiny, adorable fish
7. Plus some considerably less adorable fish
8. A swarm of amoebas, each the size of a grape
9. Weird predators like this tunicate (also known as a sea squirt)
10. Whatever the heck this is
The scientists on the live-stream said they thought it was a weird type of anemone-like animal called a relicanthus holding on to a sponge, but I think we can all agree it's obviously an alien.
11. Acorn worms, like this guy
12. And this shrimp with some sort of parasitic backpack
These are some of the awesome things you'll see if you tune in to watch the NOAA live-stream. It's not all cool creatures and unidentified parasites, though.
The research team has also found some highly uncool items deep at the bottom of the ocean:
13. Things like this beer can
It was found more than two miles below the ocean's surface on top of an undersea mountain.
14. And this plastic bag
"You may think that working in the deep sea means that we only see pristine environments, but unfortunately that isn’t true," wrote NOAA expedition scientists Diva Amon and Deborah Glickson in an Earth Day post.
"Even here, in one of the deepest places on Earth, humans have left their mark."
So what's the moral to this story? It might be obvious but...
Don't throw stuff into the ocean. Or anywhere that'll lead to the ocean. I know the ocean seems huge and deep, but it is not going to be improved by a half-eaten container of Spam.
15. Which, yes, they also found
Not only is ocean trash ugly, it can be dangerous. Garbage, especially plastic garbage, can kill wild animals.
These are the kinds of images people need to see — both how amazing the ocean is and how easy it is to de-amazing-ify it through carelessness.
It's a reminder that we should all be more thoughtful about where our trash ends up.