What alien habitats exist on the bottom of the ocean?

Prof. Erik Cordes

The tech required to explore the deepest parts of the ocean is coming on in leaps and bounds. What bizarre habitats and organisms have we found, and what still remains to be discovered?

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Fewer humans have visited the deepest point of the sea than have walked on the moon. But the mysteries of the deep sea are starting to be solved, revealing an unseen world of rivers, giant waterfalls and toxic lakes.

In 2015, the team piloting the submersible Hercules came upon an incredible sight: a circular lake on the seabed, more than 1000m (3,300ft) below the ocean's surface in the Gulf of Mexico. The water of the lake (dubbed the Hot Tub Brine Machine) was so salty and the gases dissolved within it so toxic that it resulted in instant death to any creature unlucky enough to get close. It was a significant discovery and one that sparked further questions: what else don’t we know about our oceans, and what role do these hidden landmarks play in our wider ecosystem?

Dr Erik Cordes has spent almost two years at sea and made forty six dives in submersibles. Who better to join us in The Garden and bring these incredible deep-sea landmarks to the surface?

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50 minutes


Amazing Oceans

About the Fellow

Prof. Erik Cordes

Erik has spent almost two years at sea on over 30 research cruises and has made 46 dives in manned submersibles. He is a self-described ocean explorer whose research is focused on deep-sea coral reefs, natural hydrocarbon seeps, and hydrothermal vents.

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Amazing Oceans Collection

Covering almost three-quarters of the Earth, our amazing oceans are vast, beautiful, scary and relatively unexplored. This collection brings to the surface fascinating insights and stories across ocean science, conservation and culture.

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