It’s the 2016 National Ocean Exploration Forum in New York this week, where more than 100 top marine scientists are gathering to discuss the future of deep sea exploration and look back at a trove of new discoveries found over the past year.
And among those, by some coincidence or perhaps an evolutionary trend among deep sea creatures, purple seems to be the "in" color this season.
Some of the recent finds by various teams include a strange purple slug “mud monster,” a purple googly-eye octopus, a purple Vampire squid, a weird purple disco ball-like species, and a swimming purple sea cucumber, which is “reminiscent of a flying Mary Poppins.”
Mary Poppins, aka a swimming purple sea cucumber. NOAA
A bizarre purple "mud monster" called the acorn worm. NOAA
Among the other discoveries discussed, more than 500 bubbling methane vents have been found recently off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. This doubles the number of known methane vents on the US coast to 1,000.
They were discovered this summer on the Nautilus ship led by Robert Ballard, from the Ocean Exploration Trust and University of Rhode Island, who also discovered the shipwreck of the Titanic in the mid-1980s.
"This is an area ripe for discovery," Dr Nicole Raineault, Director of Science Operations with Dr Ballard's Ocean Exploration Trust, explained in a statement. "We do not know how many seeps exist, even in US waters, how long they have been active, how persistent they are, what activated them or how much methane, if any, makes it into the atmosphere."
Other non-living discoveries included the first tiny spot volcano found in US waters, a mud volcano, and numerous WW2-era shipwrecks.
All of this is just the beginning of the research needing to be carried out in the oceans. At the forum, the scientists will help federal funding agencies to focus and prioritize the next wave of deep water exploration from 2020 to 2030.
A central aim is to "democratize" the world of deep sea exploration by introducing citizen science projects to the marine environment.
Another major goal is to formulate campaigns for new areas to explore. They're already hoping that the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic, and the South Atlantic Bight (the US coastal ocean that runs from North Carolina to Florida) will be top of the agenda.
A mysterious purple orb, likened by one scientist to a disco ball, that may prove to be new to science. Ocean Exploration Trust
A rare purple Vampire Squid, (Vampyroteuthis infernalis), a deep-sea creature nicknamed for its deep color and red eyes, found in 2014. Ocean Exploration Trust