Oceans make up the vast majority of our planet's surface and are home to as many as a million different species. World Oceans Day is a chance to celebrate this astonishing biodiversity and recognise the critical role that these vast, aquatic expanses play in our lives. More than half of the world's oxygen is produced by our oceans and at least three billion people rely on these fragile ecosystems for their livelihoods. Over-exploitation, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change are among the biggest human-caused threats facing the world's oceans and June 8 is all about taking on these challenges.

To celebrate the remarkable species that inhabit our briny blue we've put together a collection of some of our favourite ocean sightings and marine discoveries from this year.

New species of jelly

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) announced a remarkable discovery earlier this year: a new species of jelly. Atolla, a genus of deep-sea crown jellyfish, is commonly seen on ROV footage taken in the ocean depths, but a brand new Atolla species was discovered in Monterey Bay on the coast of California and only recently described in the scientific literature.

Crown jellyfish are aptly named after their circular headdress shape and Atolla are a species of crown jellyfish usually identified by a long trailing tentacle. This distinct 'tail', known as the hypertrophied tentacle, is, however, absent in the Atolla reynoldsi which has made it difficult for scientists to place the species.

Strawberry squid

The footage below was captured 725 metres (2,378 feet) deep in Monterey Canyon by one of MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Like many creatures that dwell in the depths, the strawberry squid – which belongs to a clade of cephalopods known as cock-eyed squid – has developed unique characteristics that help it hunt and survive in dark, deep waters. The incongruously large left eye is adapted to spot shadows cast by potential prey in the dimly lit waters above, while the smaller, right eye looks downward, searching for flashes of bioluminescence created by creatures prowling in the murky abyss.

Icefish nests

Deep-sea biologist Autun Purser and his team were not expecting to make a significant scientific discovery when they dropped their specially designed camera rig into the icy waters of Antarctica's Weddell Sea. They were in the area studying ocean currents and carbon cycles and weren't really scanning the depths for icefish nests. But, boy, did they find them.

The discovery, which was actually made last year, but not publicised until 2022 – happened when the team launched their camera in an unassuming patch of ocean and were instantly rewarded with the sight of a cluster of circular nests, many of them guarded by an adult icefish. These nests were nothing new and had been documented before but as the camera drifted on, visuals of the stone-lined circles kept coming. "Such huge densities in one place were never envisioned," Purser told us via email. For four hours, the team watched nothing but fish nests. The shallow indentations, spaced about 25 centimetres (10 inches) apart dotted the seafloor in every direction and stretched out over an area the size of the United Kingdom. An estimated 60 million nests were recorded, each with an average of 1,735 eggs cradled inside.

Blanket octopus

Much of what we know about the blanket octopus comes from captive animals or long-expired museum specimens, but on very rare occasions these caped crusaders of the open water make an appearance, as if to remind us that they are still out there. Marine biologist and reef guide Jacinta Shackleton was lucky enough to share the water with a blanket octopus recently off the coast of Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, and captured some stunning footage to prove it:

Highfin dragonfish

There was much excitement among marine biologists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) last month when one of the team's remotely operated vehicles captured footage of an extremely rare deep-sea fish.

The highfin dragonfish, or Bathophilus flemingi if you prefer, was seen swimming around 300 metres (980 feet) below the surface of the ocean off the coast of northern California. This striking fish has a distinct torpedo shape and an almost metallic bronze glow that intensifies under white light. Long, wing-like filaments act as fins and are believed to pick up vibrations that aid the fish when hunting or avoiding predators.

Giant squid

Earlier this year, a live giant squid (Architeuthis dux) was found washed up on a shore at the Ugu beach in Obama, Japan. The little giant, measuring just over 3 metres (9 feet) in length, is considered small for its kind compared to some of its bigger tentacled friends who have been recorded to measure up to a whopping 18 metres (59 feet) in length.

Japanese authorities recognized straight away that this was no ordinary seaside discovery as these elusive creatures inhabit the deep ocean and aren’t know to just pop up for a visit. Their rare appearances and unfathomable size raise increasing fascination amongst ocean researchers. The giant squid is a prime example of deep-sea gigantism which indicates that creatures from the deep tend to grow significantly larger than those that inhabit shallow waters.

Extreme tiger shark close-up

This may be a controversial opinion, but the inside of a tiger shark's mouth looks kind of comfy (once you're past the teeth).

Switzerland-based filmmaker and conservationist Zimy Da Kid captured this clip during a shoot in the Maldives when a curious tiger shark gobbled up his 360-degree camera and chomped on it for a bit before spitting it out and swimming away. The resulting footage offers a unique look at the shark's teeth, throat and the inner walls of its gills.

Double dumbos

Researchers aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus – a research ship currently on an expedition in and around Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument – were treated to a double dose of dumbo octopus awesomeness when they spotted two of these unique animals while steering a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) through the murky depths.