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23rd May 2022

Volcano where mutant sharks live in acidic underworld crater is erupting

Kieran Galpin

It’s like Sharknado but cooler

NASA has warned that an underwater volcano – which is also home to sharks swimming in acidic water – has started to erupt.

Having begun its eruptive cycle back in October 2021, the Kavachi Volcano in the Solomon Islands, often subbed a ‘sharkcano’ due to the fact that two shark species were spotted living within its depths, has kicked into full gear. Satellite imaging seemingly suggests that something is going on, with several days in April and May showcasing volcanic activity.

Images released by NASA on May 14 illustrate an underwater eruption some 65 feet (20 metres) below sea level, while the volcanic base sits at 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometres) below sea level.


There are volcanic sharks?

The area surrounding Kavachi is superheated acidic water that usually contains volcanic rock pieces and sulphur – yet life persists.

While the idea of sharks that like to hang around volcanoes may seem a little far fetched, many species of marine life have adapted to such intense habitats.

A scientific expedition in 2015 found scalloped hammerhead and the silky sharks living around the volcano, alongside sixgill stingrays, snapper fish, jellyfish and microbial communities that live on sulphur. A 2016 article entitled Exploring the Sharkcano suggested that the sharks may have mutated to survive in such a hostile environment.

‘These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water,’ ocean engineer Brennan Phillips told National Geographic. “It makes you question what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to. What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it?”

Speaking to the New York Post, Kadie Bennis from the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program said that seeing life around active volcanoes is not unusual.

“We see it all the time, where even just on the surface, there are people in cities built around volcanoes, or there’s this volcanic mouse species that like to live around other sorts of volcanoes in different parts of the world,” she said. “So it’s completely normal for there to be sharks and other marine life around underwater volcanoes since it’s also just contributing to the ecosystem that way.”

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