The Deep Sea A paper by Nathaniel Kelly

What do you think about when you think about the ocean? About the blue waters and waves, about the many creatures and corals? The ocean is a very nice place, isn’t it? But if you looked underneath this disguise, you would find the deep sea. The deep sea, where the pressure is high and the temperature is low. Darkness consumes every inch of this cold, unforgiving biome, and the creatures come on their own nightmare-inducing forms. And the worst part? The deep sea takes up 95% of the whole ocean. Under harsh conditions of their environment, how do deep sea creatures adapt and survive? This article has the answers to that.

An artist's impression of an angler fish hunting. Angler fish use their bioluminescence to hunt minors (smaller, weaker prey), group up, or see in the dark.

Darkness & Vision

In the deep sea, darkness is spread throughout. In other words, the deep sea is pitch dark, and it is hard to see in. The Marine Biology Organization says, “The deepest ocean waters below 1,000 m are as black as night as far as sunlight is concerned”, meaning that starting at 1,000 meters, there is no sunlight for natural lighting in the deep sea. Because of the problem of darkness, deep sea dwellers always have techniques to guide them. Most deep sea creatures cannot see openly, but most of them have a special skill. This “special skill” is called bioluminescence, which is found in their own anatomy! One of the most used examples would be the anglerfish, a special animal of the thousands of fauna from the deep sea. Fauna are a group of animals classified with each other in a group. The anglerfish dangles a light from its forehead, helping it navigate through the blind waters of the deep sea. Not only can bioluminescence be used to see, but it can also be used to lure in curious animals, as seen in the Disney film Finding Nemo.

All of these creatures come from the deep sea, 1,000 or more meters below

Below are some more deep sea creatures, which will be sure to send chills up your spine.

This is a viperfish, with a gaping open mouth and fangs, ready to strike at any moment.

A long, thin, and colourful dragonfish. It certainly lives up to its name.

This... is a bigfin squid. With fins like elephant ears, and tentacles like string, this is one of the most feared deep sea discoveries.

Food & Diet

Food in the deep sea is a luxury to its inhabitants. According to Marine Biology Organization, “The deep sea begins below about 200 m, where sunlight becomes inadequate for photosynthesis”. Since sunlight cannot be found in the deep sea, there are no species of vegetation found to rely on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the gathering of sunlight to make food for plants. Because of these conditions, scavenging and hunting are the best ways to find food. The animals try to move as slowly as possible, to lower their metabolism rates. Metabolism is a function in the body which can change the rate of food needed. Also, at rare times, the dead carcasses of surface animals can be a great feast to deep sea creatures. In the words of the Smithsonian Foundation, “Their gaping jaws-often filled with fang-like teeth- are always open, ready to capture whatever morsel falls from above”. At times when spectated, animals can be found feasting on the dead bodies together, leaving no trace of the body in their wake.

Temperature

The cold waters of the deep sea can become freezing, but thanks to their traits, cold water is not a threat to deep sea creatures. Since the water can be 0-3 degrees Fahrenheit, the animals would need to have some sort of mechanism to survive. This is because they move very slowly, which also slows down metabolism. Most animals have special cells that cover them in a thick layer of excess material which helps them survive the cold, reminiscent to the blubber of a whale. This tells us that deep sea creatures have superior survival techniques compared to surface animals.

Do you still think that the sea is a paradise? Full of colorful creatures, tropics and all? If you do, then that would merely be an oasis. The deep sea is always there to be uncovered. Full of mangled monsters, and woeful wildlife. It will always be there, to live in the depths.

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