Scientists have made the first expedition to Cook seamount, a 13,000-foot (3960m) extinct volcano at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island.
For the first time, a three-man submarine visited the volcano, which is considered a possible hotspot for mysterious aquatic life. Researchers from the University of Hawaii and the nonprofit group Conservation International aboard the vessel Pisces V and went down deep sea to examine the volcano's geological feature and vast diversity of life.
According to Associate Press, Peter Seligmann, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Conservation International, said: "We don't know anything about the ocean floor... What we know is that each one of those seamounts is a refuge for new species, but we don't know what they are. We don't know how they've evolved. We don't know what lessons they have for us."
Other than the volcano, the scientist spotted a rare type of octopus with big fins, resembling Dumbo's ears and a potentially new species of coral with a violet-hue which they later named as Purple Haze. They also spotted 6-foot eels and a number of new geological formations around the volcano's crater.
Cook seamount is part of a group of undersea volcanoes known as the Geologist Seamounts. The cluster is almost 80 million years old and could home a variety of new species of aquatic animals. The volcanoes are also extremely rich in elements like nickel and cobalt that mining companies could extract.
Seamounts are believed to cover about 18 million square miles of the earth and are either active or dormant volcanoes. The researchers also visited two other volcanoes over three days of expeditions. One is McCall, a habitat of several deep-sea sharks, and the other is Lo'ihi which is an active volcano. Scientists believe that Lo'ihi is likely to become the newest island in the Hawaii chain.