Sperm whale meets deep-sea vehicle

Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs – remotely operated underwater vehicles – are rare. Watch this video, posted April 14.

Nautilus Live yesterday posted this wonderful video capture of a sperm whale checking out the ROV Hercules. The ROV – remotely operated underwater vehicle – was tethered 598 meters (1,962 ft) below the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana at the time.

The whale circled Hercules several times and gave the cameras the chance to capture some incredible footage of this beautiful creature. What was the whale doing? R.R. Helm at Deep Sea News wrote:

Sperm whales are among the world’s deepest diving mammals–plunging to the abyss in search of their elusive squid prey. For this sperm whale, the depth of the ROV–a mere 598 meters (1,962 ft) – was still relatively shallow. What was it doing when it happened upon the ROV? Was it hunting for giant squid? Checking out the ROV as possible food? Or was it simply curious, getting a good look at this odd glowing machine in the inky darkness? We’ll never really know. Whatever the reason, it was an incredible thing to witness.

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Deborah Byrd