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The Abyss

February 8, 2010

The ocean scares me...just a little. There is so much stuff about it we just don't know and so many deadly creatures from man-o-wars to Great White sharks.

But all of the creatures that you think of in the ocean - sharks, coral, whales, dolphins - they all exist in the upper reaches of the big blue seas. There exists an entire world, an entire universe at the depths of the ocean that we know nothing about.

No light, incredible pressure, frigid temperatures in some places, boiling in others - all of the elements we consider essential for life are not wanted or needed at the depths of the ocean. Species that live 4000 meters down survive by something called chemosynthesis - where they get energy from chemicals, not sunlight, to make organic molecules. Bacteria we know nothing about live down there and fuel the entire ecosystem starting at hydrothermal vents that spew boiling water and sulfur into the ocean.

                 Fangtooth Torah Kachur abyss deep sea

The fish that live down there are so ugly you wish you didn't know they existed. They have useless eyes but mouths that will eat anything. Giant squid and oysters inhabit the deepest reaches of the oceans. And some crazy creatures like the recently filmed oarfish. Most organisms are shrimp-like creatures that feast on all the dead fish that slowly float to the bottom.

Our planet is over 65% water and life evolved in the oceans - which means that the most biodiversity on the planet exists in the watery realm. But, so little of our time has focused on the deep blue that we can't even pretend to understand the effects of fishing, whaling and climate change without first looking more than just a few meters beyond our snorkel gear.

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