Scientists Find Giant Flowers Ocean Floor

By Courtney Flannery 2014-04-30 21:19:29
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The ocean is a very mysterious place filled with interesting and sometimes creepy creatures and plants. Have you ever seen those angler fish with a light coming out of their head? Terrifying. I'm really glad evolution made land animals a little less nightmare inducing and a lot more cuddly. However, even in the scariest places there can be beautiful things. Scientists on a recent dive in the deep blue sea discovered a hauntingly pretty structure coming from a not so wonderful place.

According to The Daily Mail, a team investigating a shipwreck found giant flower like structures on the ocean floor. They may not be daisies or tulips, but they are still awe inspiring. The sonar used by the craft detected large structures about 1,900 feet down in the water of the Gulf of Mexico. A robot submarine discovered the structures were huge and had a strange black substance leaking from the center.

The NOAA team then navigated the robot into the structures, thinking they were probably rocks. Parts of the structure were rounded like a petal and had many cracks revealing a smooth, black surface under the exterior. While not a traditional flower that turns sun into food, the structures are something called an asphalt volcano, producing the flower like structure called a tar lily. Basically, volcanic material shot up from the ocean's surface like a tube of toothpaste and the cooling process created the petal-like extensions.

The stuff that made the tar lilies up here on the surface is a biproduct of oil refining. The goo produced from these processes is mixed up with sand and oils to pave roads. Underwater, though, they were malleable and soft for awhile so they flowed out away from the cracks in the ground. Over time they solidified and became home to some ocean wildlife, like the creepy tube worm and beautiful coral. These animals can surprisingly use the oil for nutrition. This is actually pretty awesome as there aren't many creatures above the sea that have figured out how to turn toxic, not good for you stuff into food.

The coolest thing is that these “flowers,” may continue to grow or more may appear over time. While the asphalt volcanoes appear to be dormant, there's always a chance they could spew more of the oily goo upward. There is very little we know about the ocean floor, but maybe with more discoveries like this we will learn a lot more. I hope that we send more teams out in the future to check to see if anymore of these “flowers,” bloom. I just don't think I'll be keeping any of the animals we find as a pet.
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