The video below is making the Internet's nature fans go bonkers. It shows Nautilus Live's remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Hercules coming upon a rarity for an ROV: a sperm whale.
The encounter took place off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, at 1,962 feet (598 meters) below the surface.
The whale seems as curious about the ROV as the ROV is about it, taking several turns around the odd-looking mechanical thing impinging on its turf. Meet and greets between sperm whales and ROVs are "very rare," according to Nautilus Live.
The sperm whale is the largest predator with teeth on the planet. Males of the species (Physeter macrocephalus) can top almost 70 feet (21 meters) long. Classified as "vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, it is protected under an International Whaling Commission moratorium.
Nautilus Live makes its explorations available live online, where site visitors can check in on what the undersea scientists are seeing, as they're seeing it.
The Nautilus Exploration Program engages in pure ocean exploration of the seafloor and launches many of its expeditions from the Nautilus, a 210-foot (64-meter) research vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust.