It’s often said that 95% of the Earth’s ocean floor is unexplored, although The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) puts that figure at more than 80%. Either way, that’s an absolutely massive amount of the Earth which we know very little about.
It is widely assumed that the majority of species which live in the deepest parts of the sea are yet to be discovered. Results from the increasing effort to explore the deep sea have shown hugely diverse ecosystems rivalling those of coral reefs and tropical rainforests. This has huge implications not only for species collection, but also for our understanding of carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and James Cameron’s next film.
Finding new species in the deep sea is one thing, but researching them is another entirely. Their bodies are used to being under such enormous pressure that, when brought to the surface, they essentially fall into a gooey mess as their bodies expand under the lowering pressure (google the Blob Fish… poor guy). As technology advances, we may be able to either create pressurised specimen tanks which allow deep sea creatures to be brought up to the surface for examination, or we’ll have to develop submarine-labs capable of diving upwards of 5 miles under the ocean. That’s Lab 22 to Castell Coch, but straight down. Not for me, thanks.