In 2015 off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, a real-world phenomenon was introduced when a team of scientists discovered something new- sharks in an underwater volcano.
Sharks and other creatures were first found in a 2015 National Geographic expedition to the Kavachi volcano. Scientist Brenna Phillips, after being asked why their team decided to send robots into an active volcano, says the expedition was mainly to gain information on volcanoes in general.
“[...] as a scientist, it’s about getting that last data point, right before the eruption - pH, carbon dioxide, temperature fluctuations, acidity. If you can do this at this one volcano, you can do it at every volcano.” Phillips said.
The risk of sending robots into an active volcano was considered.
“[...] you have to develop low-cost monitoring tools that are capable of undertaking meaningful measurements but are not so costly you can’t afford to lose them,” scientist Matthew Dunbabin said.
Along with the price of the robots, size is crucial.
“Kavachi is in a remote part of the Solomon Islands with very limited travel options. So you have to design robots that fi t into carry-on luggage on a Twin Otter plane [small plane],” Dunbabin said.
To the scientists’ surprise, sharks, fish, stingrays, etc. were found.
“Yet we saw sharks that in between eruptions are darting in and out between the clouds of the plume,” Philips said.
The situation concerning the sharks and their habitat puzzled the scientists.
“Number one it’s very hot and acidic, and we measured that. Number two, it’s very turbid, so the water is very cloudy. None of these things are good for fish,” Phillips said.
As numerous tests were conducted, the question of how marine life is able to live in the worlds most active volcano.