Everyone knows sharks are awesome. And just went you think sharks can't be any cooler, along comes a new shark that defies all expectations. Meet the two species of shark that live in an active volcano. Yes, Sharkcano really exists.
These sharks were discovered inside the Kavachi volcano in the Solomon Islands in 2015. This volcano is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world, and it has erupted at least eight times since 1939. Scientists have been trying to figure out how – and why – these sharks live in an active volcano. It's extremely hard to live in an active volcano, let alone thrive, but the Kavachi volcano sharks don't care. They're just chillin' in one of Earth's most volatile regions, so just let them live, okay?
These Sharks Love Living In An Active Volcano – One Of The Most Volatile Places In The World
In 2015, scientists sent cameras deep down into the Kavachi volcano to research the hydrothermal activity inside of it. And to their extreme surprise, they spotted at least four different types of marine life down there – two different species of sharks, a sixgill stingray, jellyfish, and a snapper fish all call the volcano home.
These creatures were spotted about 147 feet below the surface, where the water is fairly hot and acidic. What's most shocking is the presence of the sharks – a scalloped hammerhead and a silky shark, respectively – because of their larger size. Smaller animals can thrive in extremely hot temperatures, but larger animals typically tend to struggle in those environments. But not these sharks.
"It makes you question what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to," said ocean engineer Brennan Phillips. "What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it?"
If The Volcano Erupts, The Sharks Die – So Why Live There?
During an underwater volcanic eruption, conditions get extreme. Much like subterranean volcanoes, underwater volcanoes erupt when molten lava pushes up from beneath the sea floor and out through an opening. This lava is extremely hot – thousands of degrees Fahrenheit – and causes extreme pressure inside the volcano.
This means anything living inside of it – or near it, really – will more than likely be obliterated when it erupts. Which is exactly why scientists are scratching their heads. Why would animals adapt to living in such a harsh environment, only to face the risk of a volcanic eruption? Scientists said they saw sharks darting in and out of volcanic clouds during "mini" eruptions, which makes them think sharks can tell when and where they are occurring.
The Next Step – Research, Research, Research
Since their discovery in 2015, scientists have been diligently researching the sharks and their volcanic sea friends. Part of that process is creating high-tech robots equipped to explore the harsh conditions of a volcano.
These custom robots are not only amazing, but also relatively cheap. Meaning if they get caught in an eruption, their loss won't break the bank. Researchers from the University of Queensland, as well as Phillips's team and members of GFB Robotics, designed these robots after discovering the sharks. They hope to capture more footage and determine how the sharks thrive.