OCEANOGRAPHER AND NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Society/Waitts Grant recipient Brennan Phillips led an expedition into the South Pacific to find out more about Kavachi, a volcano near the Solomon Islands that was actively spewing magma as recently as 2014.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, because this volcano happens to be underwater.
Phillips and his team knew that the summit was somewhere around 100 feet below sea level and that it at times shot plumes of magma nearly a quarter-mile into the air, forming temporary islands on the surface of the ocean.
Before Phillips, no one had ever explored Kavachi up close before. His team was able to send underwater cameras to peek inside the crater and were surprised to discover that it was populated by rays, crabs, and even sharks.
“These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water, and they’re just hanging out,” Phillips said. “What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it? Do they get an early warning and escape the caldera before it gets explosive, or do they get trapped and perish in steam and lava?”
There’s really nothing to fear with these guys. There’s not been one instance of a human making it 200 feet into the belly of an active underwater volcano and being bit or eaten by one of these sharks.
On the other hand, mankind kills more than 100 million sharks every single year. It’s gotten so dire that 1 in 4 shark species are endangered. Honestly, if I were a shark, I’d probably be hiding out in a South Pacific volcano, too.
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