Surprising Signs of Life Found Inside Active Underwater Volcano

May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

An underwater volcano in the remote South Pacific seems like an unlikely place to find any animal.

However, as ocean engineer Brennan Phillips noted in a National Geographic video, “You never know what you’re going to find. Especially when you are working deep underwater. The deeper you go, the stranger it gets.”

So, what did they find? Lots of sharks.

“No one has ever looked in the deep sea there, period. No one’s been out to anywhere in the Solomon Islands and gone deeper than a few hundred meters or deeper than a scuba diver has gone, really. So we were very excited. We thought there was a lot of potential,” Philips said.

When scientists started to review the footage, they saw something unusual.

“What was that? Shadow of something. There is something off!” one team member said before they saw the unmistakable profile of a shark.

A total of 150 were discovered inside the active Kavachi volcano, located near the Solomon Islands, they were specifically scalloped hammerhead and silky sharks. Snapper fish, sixgill stingrays, and jellyfish were also found inside Kavachi.

There have been about a dozen significant eruptions in Kavachi since the late 1970s.

The discovery opens more questions about sharks.

“One of the videos from inside the main caldera of Kavachi shows some jellyfish hanging out. They seem to be there naturally. And then we see some snappers and some small fish … and then sharks start coming after the camera. Sharks are cool in their own right—all of them are—but a hammerhead is particularly neat looking. And they’re in there, in numbers, inside the volcano! Now I want to spend years trying to study that and why that is the case,” added Phillips.

A Danger or Endangered?

Sharks in their interactions with humans have acquired a fearsome reputation that, according to National Geographic, is not justified.

“The United States averages just 16 shark attacks each year and slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years,” writes National Geographic’s Brian Handwerk. “Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year.”

Data from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF), a database of all known shark attacks, shows that humans pose a greater threat to sharks than vice versa.

Image of an attacking shark. (Three Shots/Pixabay)

“On average, there are only six fatalities attributable to unprovoked attacks by sharks worldwide, each year. By contrast, fisheries kill about 100 million sharks and rays annually.”

comparison of dog attack fatalities (364) versus shark attack fatalities (11) in the United States for the years 2001-2010 shows that canines pose a considerably higher risk to humans than the much-maligned sharks.

Epoch Times’ Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.