This year SOI was part of many new findings, observations, and paths to understanding. Here are some of the most outstanding discoveries in 2020.
Dive 315 (Jan 31, 2020) | Bremer Canyon
A discovered whale fall (sunken whale carcass) was brought to the surface and contained numerous organisms, some of which may be new species.
Dive 337 (Mar 15, 2020) | Cape Range Canyon
This giant hydroid, found at 2497 meters depth, was over a meter tall. Giant hydroids have never been observed in Australian waters before, so this one might be a new species.
Dive 341 (Mar 20, 2020) | Cape Range Canyon
The sighting of this eyeless fish was the deepest record of it, as well as the first time it was observed outside of Queensland and on the western side of the continent.
Dive 366 (Jun 6, 2020) | Lihou Reef
Identifying this particular species of “pumpkin star” (first described in 2004) during an ROV dive resulted in a substantial range extension for the species.
Dive 368 (Jun 6, 2020) | Lihou Reef
This deepwater spike fish was thought to be native to Hawaii, but footage of the fish in Australian waters extended it significantly further from its original “home range.”
Dive 376 (Aug 7, 2020) | Herald Cays
Samples were taken of black coral and may reveal they belong to the family schizopathidae, but DNA sequencing may reveal they belongs to an entirely different family.
Dive 392 (Aug 24, 2020) | Tregrosse Reefs
The first-ever recording of this rare species of walking scorpionfish in Australia significantly extended its range.
Dive 395 (Oct 5, 2020) | Noggin Canyon
The team spotted a dumbo octopus that was displaying highly unusual behavior. Researchers are still unsure what was happening, though many speculate it could have been predating upon another octopus or holding onto a mate.
Dive 399 (Oct 17, 2020) | Southern Small Detached Reef
The short-tail catshark is one of the rarest species of sharks in the world, known from a single specimen collected from the southern Coral Sea. We documented three new specimens of this shark throughout the year.
Dive 402 (Oct 26, 2020) | Wreck Bay Plunge Pool
The Ram’s Horn Squid is well known for its spiral shell, that washes up on beaches around the world. However, no scientist has seen this animal alive in its natural environment until ROV SuBastian recorded footage of it during a midwater dive.
Dive 312-331 (Overall Expedition) | Perth, Bremer, & Leeuwin Canyons
Multiple new types of deep-sea coral ecosystems were uncovered in Western Australia throughout the expedition.
R/V Falkor and team fully mapped a distinctive cliff feature at approximately 200 meters depth; it is thought to be the southernmost extent of the ~20 million-year-old base of the Great Barrier Reef.
The presence of ooids (a sediment grain made from calcium carbonate) in deep water provides insight into the ancient geological makeup of the Great Barrier Reef and gives insight into historic sea levels.