During the filming of David Attenborough’s famous BBC series Blue Planet 2, viewers got a unique insight into just how little our oceans have been explored. Using a Triton submarine, a team of researchers were able to dive 1000m below the surface of Antarctica into an area known as the “midnight zone”. However, during this excavation, they also uncovered more than what they expected.
Sir David revealed how they uncovered life in these bitter conditions.
He said in 2017: “Sinking down beside the submerged wall of an iceberg, we enter an unforgiving world.
“These waters are the coldest on Earth and, as we descend into the deep, the pressure increases relentlessly.
“And the light from above all but disappears.
“Yet, incredibly, there is life here.”
To the team’s surprise, they uncovered an ecosystem that was bursting with life.
Sir David continued: “We might have expected that, deep beneath the surface of the polar seas, the waters would be truly barren.
“But, in fact, we find life here in unimaginable abundance.
“Nor is such great abundance confined to Antarctic waters.
“Currents carry this richness into the depths of almost every ocean around the world.”
More intriguing still, the team uncovered some forms of life they had never seen before.
In a layer of mud up to a mile thick, they discovered a unique animal that had evolved over the years.
Sir David continued: “The seabed may at first appear lifeless but it is home to a unique cast of mud-dwellers.
“The sea toad – an ambush predator with an enormous mouth and infinite patience.
“This fish has been living for so long here that its fins have changed into something more useful – feet.
“They help it shuffle about on the sea floor.”
The sea toad belongs to a family of deep sea fish known as Chaunacidae, which can be found at depths of up to 2,460 metres.
They have large globose bodies and short compressed tails and are covered with small spiny scales.
This fish can grow up to 30cm in length and it mutilates its own dorsal fin to become a better predator.
However, not all life they found was as we know it.
The group also spotted “alien-like” creatures roaming in the dark.
Sir David said during the same series: “We go deeper into the world of perpetual blackness below – the Midnight Zone.
“Two-thirds of a mile from the surface – beyond the reach of the sun.
“A giant black void larger than all the rest of the world’s habitats combined.
“There’s life here but not as we know it.”
Suddenly, the waters were filled with bright neon lights, startling the crew and Mr Attenborough.
The 92-year-old presenter detailed: “Alien-like creatures produce dazzling displays of light.
“Nearly all animals need to attract mates and repel predators but this language of light is so widespread here that these signals are probably the most common form of communication.
“Yet we still know little about them.”