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ROV Hercules records Sperm whale gimmickry in Gulf of Mexico


Scientists had an impressive surprise as they were investigating the hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. The team was attempting to gain a better understanding of these vents, but what happened was something absolutely magical. The team was led by Robert Ballard, and was being done for E/V Nautilus, and ultimately was intended to give a better view – but not a lot beyond that.

What the team got was a front row seat as a massive sperm whale took it upon itself to investigate the ROV Hercules, as it sat there in the ocean. The encounter happened at deeper than 1,900 feet and gave scientists an impressive view – and an impressive story to tell afterward.

Immediately after the encounter, one scientist could be heard saying, “What the heck is that?” Which couldn’t more accurately sum up how the team felt about the encounter if they tried. While this type of encounter isn’t exactly unheard of, it certainly isn’t something that is expected in any way. In fact, studies like this are happening essentially constantly, but findings like this, or encounters like this – are rare.

The team pointed out afterward that, “Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs are incredibly rare,” and even went on to point out that for a massive whale like this – which could grow to as long as 60 feet – it simply isn’t something one would expect or plan for. Instead, it’s something that would – and did – take the team completely off guard.

This isn’t the first finding or encounter deep in the ocean that has been found by researchers. Actually, this is the second major encounter in the last six months, or so. Interestingly, the Black Seadevil was the last spotting that happened deep under the surface – and impressively, was equally as rare – if not a little more rare given the actual findings of the creature.

Instances like this are some of the rarest events in science, and for the team to capture it – under these circumstances is amongst some of the best video that has ever been captured under water.


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