Deep dive: Weird and wonderful new creatures and features of the deep sea | Hindustan Times
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Deep dive: Weird and wonderful new creatures and features of the deep sea

Updated On Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

It’s the final frontier on Earth. The poorly explored deep seas, which make up much of our planet, have not been systematically surveyed or mapped, making the extent of their biodiversity a mystery. Everywhere scientists look, they find new organisms and ecosystems. Each new sighting has something to tell us about the range of species or new depths at which unexpected life forms can survive. Here’s a sampling of what’s been found swimming in the deep sea, spotted by researchers in manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles.

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Sheer delight: While out surveying the remote Phoenix Islands Archipelago, Schmidt Ocean Institute scientists captured rare footage of a “glass octopus”, named so because it is completely see-through. What one does see when one shines a light on it is its optic nerve, eyeballs, and digestive tract. Even though this species has been known to science since 1918, scientists were forced to study about this animal through specimens found in the guts of predators, before this sighting. (Schmidt Ocean Institute) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

Sheer delight: While out surveying the remote Phoenix Islands Archipelago, Schmidt Ocean Institute scientists captured rare footage of a “glass octopus”, named so because it is completely see-through. What one does see when one shines a light on it is its optic nerve, eyeballs, and digestive tract. Even though this species has been known to science since 1918, scientists were forced to study about this animal through specimens found in the guts of predators, before this sighting. (Schmidt Ocean Institute)

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Code red: In 2022, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) described a new species of deep-sea crown jelly called Atolla reynoldsi. Atolla have a signature scarlet colour, distinctive thorny projections, and tend to have one long, trailing tentacle. This species, spotted in 2006 in California’s Monterey Bay, does not have the characteristic trailing tentacle. DNA studies have now confirmed its position as a deep sea Atolla. (MBARI 2006) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

Code red: In 2022, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) described a new species of deep-sea crown jelly called Atolla reynoldsi. Atolla have a signature scarlet colour, distinctive thorny projections, and tend to have one long, trailing tentacle. This species, spotted in 2006 in California’s Monterey Bay, does not have the characteristic trailing tentacle. DNA studies have now confirmed its position as a deep sea Atolla. (MBARI 2006)

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All ears: In 2020, the deepest-dwelling octopus known was spotted at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. A species of Dumbo octopus with ear-like fins, belonging to the Grimpoteuthis and named after the Disney character, was found swimming at 6,957 metres. The previous record for lowest depth at which an octopus had been seen was 5,145 metres. This fresh sighting was made by marine biologist Alan Jamieson, using an underwater camera trap that settles on the seabed and photographs life as it swims and shuffles by. ( Atlantic Productions for Disney Channel) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

All ears: In 2020, the deepest-dwelling octopus known was spotted at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. A species of Dumbo octopus with ear-like fins, belonging to the Grimpoteuthis and named after the Disney character, was found swimming at 6,957 metres. The previous record for lowest depth at which an octopus had been seen was 5,145 metres. This fresh sighting was made by marine biologist Alan Jamieson, using an underwater camera trap that settles on the seabed and photographs life as it swims and shuffles by. ( Atlantic Productions for Disney Channel)

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Voldemort with fins: This faceless fish was picked up by the Sampling the Abyss voyage in 2017, at a depth of 4,000 metres. An international group of scientists went on a month-long deep-sea research voyage to explore marine life in the abyss off eastern Australia. At first, scientists thought this was a new species. A quick look at the history books revealed that Typhlonus nasus is one of the earliest-known deep-sea species, first discovered by the HMS Challenger, which undertook a landmark oceanographic survey in the 1870s.(Rob Zubaro / Museums Victoria) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

Voldemort with fins: This faceless fish was picked up by the Sampling the Abyss voyage in 2017, at a depth of 4,000 metres. An international group of scientists went on a month-long deep-sea research voyage to explore marine life in the abyss off eastern Australia. At first, scientists thought this was a new species. A quick look at the history books revealed that Typhlonus nasus is one of the earliest-known deep-sea species, first discovered by the HMS Challenger, which undertook a landmark oceanographic survey in the 1870s.(Rob Zubaro / Museums Victoria)

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Holy smoke: At the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, beneath the permanent sea ice near the North Pole, are hydrothermal vents letting out a super-heated soup from deep underground. The Aurora vent field, first detected about two decades ago, lies at the depth of 4,000 metres and was explored in detail by the HACON expedition in September-October 2021. Vents like these, which emit dark, smoke-like clouds of hot liquid (like underwater volcanoes), are called black smokers. While life is sparse in the deep seas, around such vents organisms have adapted to survive and thrive on the heat and chemicals such as methane and sulphur available. (HACON2021) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 02:58 PM IST

Holy smoke: At the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, beneath the permanent sea ice near the North Pole, are hydrothermal vents letting out a super-heated soup from deep underground. The Aurora vent field, first detected about two decades ago, lies at the depth of 4,000 metres and was explored in detail by the HACON expedition in September-October 2021. Vents like these, which emit dark, smoke-like clouds of hot liquid (like underwater volcanoes), are called black smokers. While life is sparse in the deep seas, around such vents organisms have adapted to survive and thrive on the heat and chemicals such as methane and sulphur available. (HACON2021)

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