The Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents site was declared Canada's first deep-sea Marine Protected Area back in 2003 – and for good reason. Around 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) below the ocean's surface, here you'll find hundreds of towering 'black smokers', chimneys made of iron sulfide that spew superheated water laced with chemicals toxic to most forms of life. It's a place as extraordinary as it is extreme – and it's home to an ecosystem of bizarre creatures that have evolved to survive in this hostile environment, from huge spider crabs and colourful tubeworms to ancient microbes. All in all, it's a pretty fitting home for another unusual inhabitant: a terrifying humanoid named 'Dudley'.

According to marine biologist Jackson Chu, who recently stumbled upon this deep-sea invader while reviewing dive logs, 'Dudley' found his way to Endeavour with University of Washington (UW) scientists who conducted early research in the area. 

The wooden dummy was originally placed by UW as a site marker, but because he wasn't weighted properly, Dudley drifted into the blast zone ... and as you can imagine, he didn't stand up well to the 300°C vent fluid. Not only is he still migrating, but the blasts have caused substantial scorching and 'loss of limb' (as if a lifeless wooden man on the sea floor wasn't creepy enough!).

Find yourself asking where Dudley's name came from? We wanted to know too.

If you want to study sites like Endeavour, you have to be able to get there. Scientists rely on deep-sea submersibles to reach hydrothermal vents on the sea floor ... and that is where Dudley got his name. Perhaps the most infamous of these deep-diving subs is Alvin (one of the first of its kind in the world, Alvin is still being used by researchers today). In a nod of thanks to Alvin's then-pilot, Dudley Foster, the UW team decided to name a site marker in his honour. As it turns out, wooden Dudley is actually a life-sized cutout of his human counterpart!

Only one person in the world has logged more hours in a deep-sea pilot chair than Foster, so we're glad to know there is something drifting along the sea floor in tribute to him ... even if we have to keep the lights on to look at it.

Top header image: Damien du Toit/Flickr