There’s little doubt that sharks are a force to be reckoned with, but it turns out that the natural world can provide something more baffling and fearsome that any made for TV movie: a phenomenon that can only reasonably be termed a “sharkcano.” A group of scientists surveying Kavachi, a very active volcano 60 feet below the ocean’s surface near the Solomon Islands, were stunned to discover that there are two species of shark living in the hot, highly acidic waters within the crater.
The sharks were observed with the use of disposable robots, underwater cameras, and National Geographic’s deep-sea Drop Cam—divers who have tried to go near to the crater when it is not erupting have suffered acid burns, or backed away simply because of the heat. But in this inhospitable environment, there are numbers of hammerhead and silkly sharks, hanging around and going about their business.
Scientist Brennan Phillips described to National Geographic the many, many questions that this brings up: “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.”
Moreover, what happens when Kavachi erupts—as it does so rather frequently? Phillips continued “do [the sharks] get some kind of sign that it’s going to erupt? Do they get blown up sky-high in little bits?” As of yet, no one has any idea, but the team fully intends to find out in future.
Images screengrabs via Youtube