Countless stories and articles on the ocean will tell you how little we know about it – and it’s true. We really don’t know all that much about the ocean or the creatures that live there, especially those living in the deep sea. Scientists are constantly discovering new things about the deep sea.
Some of the things we do know are that
- two-thirds of the world is comprised of ocean, providing 190 times the living space than land, air, and fresh water combined,
- the first 3 billion years of evolution on Earth were restricted to the ocean,
- the deepest discovered point of the sea thus far is about 11 kilometers (just under 7 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface,
- and there are 28 different major species living in the ocean, compared to the mere 11 major species found on land.
A Few Creatures
Speaking of the creatures that live in the ocean, there are some interesting ones that live in the deep sea.
As I already mentioned, there is still not a lot that scientists know about the deep sea –
in fact, just this past June, new creatures were discovered off the coast of the Galápagos Islands.
Another strange deep sea species was filmed along with these two that have not been identified: The Flamboyant Squid Worm, which was only discovered in 2007. They’re sort of gnarly-looking, right?
A Ghost Shark, some Sperm Whales, some jellyfish, and other creatures were also observed off the Galápagos Islands coast in June.
There are a great number of other pretty gnarly creatures living in the deep sea at varying depths, according to where that specific species prefers to dwell.
One species that is rarely seen by humans because it likes to dwell at about 5,000 feet below surface, is the Frilled Shark. With some attributes similar to those held by its ancestors during the time of the dinosaurs, Frilled Sharks are considered living fossils – which is even more understandable when you take a look at this creature. You can do so on National Geographic’s website.
A great deal of the creatures who live in the deep sea have something called bioluminescence. This is when a creature is able to use the chemicals in its body to produce a light – basically, what fireflies do when they come out at night in the warmer months. Bioluminescence is an ability that creatures developed in order to be able to see in the deep sea, where sunlight cannot penetrate. Some of the creatures with this ability produce light constantly, while others are able to switch the light on and off at will.
Most creatures with bioluminescence produce a green-blue light because it travels well in water, and because ocean creatures are more sensitive to blue light. Of course, there is always an exception to the rule. The Loosejaws fish family produces a red light, which most other fish can’t see, giving the Loosejaw the pretty handle skill of being able to sneak up on its prey unseen.
Interestingly, there are also a great deal of corals in the deep sea. In fact, there are nearly as many deep sea (cold water) corals as there are shallow water corals. While deep sea corals hold a number of similarities to their shallow water counterparts, because they dwell in near-impenetrable darkness, they do not require sunlight. Instead, these species of coral acquire their nutrients and energy through tiny organisms they trap as the current flows past them.
Additionally, scientists have discovered deep sea corals are not only incredibly diverse, but some are also incredibly old. Off the coast of Hawai’i there is a colony of gold coral that is about 2,742 years old. There is also a black coral colony off the Hawai’i coast that is 4,265 years old. In fact, because polyps are continuously regenerating, there are some deep sea corals that have been alive and active for as long as 40,000 years – possibly even longer. Who knows, considering how much we have yet to discover about the sea and its many wonders, especially those in the deep sea.
These are merely a few facts about the deep sea and its creatures; what we do know could fill a few books at least. On the other hand, what we don’t know yet about the deep sea could possibly fill thousands of more books. Who knows if we ever will know all there is to know about the deep sea.
That’s the fun part, though, isn’t it? Constantly learning new things, discovering the unknown. It’s fascinating, to say the least, and I for one cannot wait to see what we discover next.
“Deep Sea Bioluminescence.” Sea and Sky Presents The Sea. Sea and Sky, n.d. Web.
“Deep-Sea Creature Photos.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web.
“Facts about the deep ocean.” Natural History Museum. The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, n.d. Web.
Ocean Portal Team, The. “Deep-sea Corals.” Ocean Portal. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, n.d. Web.
“Researchers film bizarre deep sea creatures near Galapagos Islands.” 9news.com.au. ninemsn Pty Ltd, 17 June 2015. Web.