A Blue View: The Deep

As land animals, we humans are most familiar with the thin sliver of the ocean along the coast, where we vacation, collect shells and watch the sun rise or set. By contrast, the deep ocean is entirely unfamiliar. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do the bottom of the sea.

Published June 07, 2016

It’s an extreme habitat—cold, dark and under tremendous pressure from the weight of the water above. But the deep sea is home to diverse habitats where life has found ways to thrive, and the deeper you go, the weirder it gets...

Three-quarters of a mile down

Here you might find a vampire squid, which confuses its predators by ejecting a sticky, bioluminescent mucus that glows for up to 10 minutes.

vampire-squid

This squid feeds on marine detritus, including (wait for it) fecal pellets.

The beautiful blobfish also likes to hang out at this depth.

blobfish

Its minimal muscles and skeletal structure allow it to survive the intense pressure thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface.

One mile down

Deep-sea anglerfish live about this far down.

deep-sea-anglerfish

They’re festooned with spiny teeth in huge jaws, and a bioluminescent lure created from a fleshy protuberance of their own bodies.

1.3 miles down

The largest sea sponge on record—approximately the size of a minivan—was recently discovered at this depth near the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

deep-sea-sponge

Sponges are animals, not plants, and this one could be 1,000 years old.

1.5 miles down

Here lurks a fish called the chimaera, also known as a ghost shark.

chimera

Distantly related to sharks and rays, this fish has no bones at all; its skeleton is made entirely of cartilage.

To learn more about the deep sea’s many oddities, listen to this week’s A Blue View:

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