3 Mar 2014

Life thriving deep down in Pacific

9:30 pm on 3 March 2014

Scientists from New Zealand and Scotland have had their first glimpse of life in one of the deepest parts of the ocean.

Remote cameras were sent to the bottom of the New Hebrides Trench, south of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean where there is no light and temperatures are freezing.

Footage recorded 7200 metres beneath the waves shows that life thrives. Giant grey cusk eels slink through the water, mingling with large, bright red prawns scrabbling around on the sandy sea bed.

It is the first time that this underwater canyon lying 1500km north of New Zealand has been explored, the BBC reports.

Alan Jameson from Aberdeen University in Scotland says the diversity of life differs from other ocean trenches - suggesting that each underwater canyon has its own ecology.

"We've been targeting specific trenches based on their location and based on their environmental setting. This is the eleventh trip that we've done and we're starting to really hone in on what it is that's driving these differences."

There are more than 30 deep-sea trenches around the world, and most of these narrow fissures in the seafloor lie in the Pacific Ocean.

Aberdeen University collaborated with New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in the exploration.