The Earth is more water than land–oceans and seas cover nearly two thirds of the surface–yet it remains relatively unexplored. Even less well known is the deep sea, those great, dark expanses thousands of meters down that require enormous effort, specialized equipment, and no small measure of courage and dedication to reach. In this Exploration: Under the Sea we dive beneath the waves to learn about the power, mystery, and beauty of our great bodies of water.
In our podcast, meet deep sea explorer Angelika Brandt, who studies weird and wonderful deep sea isopods—a rare but diverse array of crustaceans related to the common garden "pillbug"—and talks about life on the deck of a polar research vessel.
Examine some of the cast of new creatures pulled up on those expeditions, including a delicate glass sponge, a carmine–colored sea urchin, and Munna, an isopod with very long reach. View film footage of the depths, understand the origins of tsunamis, and dip into Science News Magazine stories and ScienCentral videos that explain pressing issues of the day, from carbon sequestration to the reason sharks are a scallop's best friend.
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AudioExploration:Under the Sea - Interview with Marine Biologist, Angelika Brandt
In our podcast, meet deep sea explorer Angelika Brandt, who studies weird and wonderful deep sea isopods—a rare but diverse array of crustaceans related to the common garden "pillbug"—and talks about life on the deck of a polar research vessel. Dr. Brandt headed the ANDEEP project, an expedition to survey life at the bottom of the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica. The researchers discovered hundreds of strange new species and are piecing together the story of this community of creatures living in frigid darkness and tremendous pressures nearly four miles down. Join us to explore these chilling depths in this AudioExploration: Under the Sea
Credits:Angelika Brandt is a professor at the University of Hamburg Zoological Institute in Germany and head of the Hamburg Zoological Museum.
Dorian Devins' previous work includes the National Academy of Sciences InterViews project and WFMU's Speakeasy with Dorian and the Green Room. Sound Engineering by Neil Strachan of Tin Balloon Productions, New York, NY. Music courtesy of the Sacrosanct Wednesdays.
The German research ship Polarstern carried researchers on a series of expeditions to the Southern Ocean between 2002 and 2005 for the ANDEEP project (ANtarctic benthic DEEP-sea biodiversity). [Courtesy of Angelika Brant]
This specimen of the genus Munna is a male, which can be seen by the large first leg that is extended forward in the picture. This is a shelf species, thus its habitat does receive some light and it has well developed eyes. This species belongs to the family Munnidae. [Credit/Courtesy of Wiebke Brökeland]
The Mesosignum specimen pictured here is a genus of the family Mesosignidae, a rare group of deep-sea isopods, characterized by their star-like body shape. [Credit/Courtesy of Wiebke Brökeland]
A glass sponge
One of 76 sponge species founding the Southern Ocean deep sea, seventeen species of sponges were new to science. [Credit: Armin Rose]
(a) Stylomesusspecies (b)
Stylomesusspecies (c) Haplomesus corniculatus Stylomesus (a, b) and Haplomesus (c) are genera of the family Ischnomesidae, a deep-sea family of isopods. Some species of this family may be found also on the Antarctic shelf. They are thought to be tube dwellers. The first pair of legs is used for grabbing food. [Credit/Courtesy of Wiebke Brökeland]
A strange and brightly colored deep sea echinoid, or sea urchin, collected during the ANDEEP expedition to the benthic Southern Ocean. [Credit: Armin Rose]
A juvenile Ceratoserolis specimen. This species belongs to the family Serolidae. They are known for their similarity to the extinct trilobites, well known from fossils. This similarity is the result of a convergent development and not due to a close relationship. The species of this family live primarily on the Antarctic shelf, only few are known from the deep sea. Numerous species of the family are distributed around Antarctica, and they are also known from other Southern hemisphere locations such as the waters around South America. [Credit/Courtesy of Wiebke Brökeland]
(b) Serolid eye
A close-up of the eye of an adult of the Antarctic deep-sea isopod, Ceratoserolis. [Credit/Courtesy of Wiebke Brökeland]
After the dust from the camera's landing clears, ghostly benthic creatures appear. Captured in time-lapse photography, long-armed starfish called brittle stars creep past "drop stones" on the ocean bottom; anemones wave their tentacles; a bell-shaped tunicate, anchored by its stalk, sways in the water. Look carefully for the inhabitants of this underwater moonscape of frigid temperatures, perpetual darkness, and tremendous pressures of the Antarctic depths.
Credits: Filmed by Dr. Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences for the ANDEEP project expeditions to the Southern Ocean
ScienCentral News VideoNo Fish by 2050 View Video
by Jack Penland
Week of April 01, 2007
Research announced today shows that, if present fishing practices are allowed to continue, there will be no viable ocean fishing in just another 40 to 50 years. As this ScienCentral News video explains, the research, published this week in the journal Science is the result of four years of work by a dozen scientists from all over the world.
Science News MagazineLow Life: Life in cold polar ocean looks surprisingly rich
by Susan Milius (Week of May 20, 2007) View AccessScience Article
The first survey of life in deep waters around Antarctica has turned up hundreds of new species and a lot more variety than explorers had expected.
A team of scientists from eight countries sampled bottom dwellers during three cruises in the ocean south of the Atlantic. Some of the researchers offer their "first insights" into these Southern Ocean depths in the May 17 Nature.
Biological Hot Spots: ocean eddies may not always lock away carbon
by Sid Perkins (Week of May 20, 2007) View AccessScience Article
Large blooms of plankton often appear in ocean eddies, temporary swirls that sometimes bring cool, nutrient-rich water to the surface. When those organisms die, the carbon they contain has to go somewhere, but new studies suggest that very little of it sinks to the ocean floor and gets locked away in sediments. The new data might quash hopes that fertilizing the ocean surface could pull enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to substantially affect climate.
A controversial new study argues that the U.S. lobster fishery in the Gulf of Maine could have the better of two worlds: less work to make the same profit and fewer whales dying as a result of getting tangled in lobster gear.
A Chronicle of Coasts: Study charts historical changes in seas, estuaries
by Ben Harder (Week of June 25, 2006) View AccessScience Article
Human exploitation of marine species and destruction of habitat have been spoiling coastal ecosystems since the birth of the Roman republic. By comparing historical changes in 12 bodies of water worldwide, a new study highlights the extent to which civilization's advance has led to ecological degradation.
Here's Looking at You: Box jellyfish use complex eyes to navigate
Box jellies are the Lamborghinis of the jellyfish world. While their better-known brethren-the true jellyfish-often just drift on ocean currents with slowly undulating bells, box jellies have a need for speed. How do these simple-looking creatures avoided slamming into objects in their paths? Simple, they use their eyes.
AccessScience Image GalleryVenomous Fishes
In 2006, evolutionary biologists at the American Museum of Natural History conducted a phylogenetic analysis of spiny-rayed teleost fishes. They discovered that at least a thousand more venomous fish species inhabit worldwide aquatic ecosystems—a conservative estimate places the number at 1400 species. This exhibit introduces some of these venomous fish and describes the significance of the new findings. Text and images by Dr. W. Leo Smith, Department of Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History. Explore the ExhibitThe Indian Ocean Tsunami: A Survey of the Underwater Earthquake Zone
On December 26, 2004, a giant earthquake of magnitude 9.3 on the Richter scale was triggered in the deep ocean off western Indonesia. Simultaneously, a devastating tsunami was generated, causing destruction and loss of life around Indian Ocean coastlines. Learn about what happened by viewing images and text from the geologists who, for the first time, were able to survey an underwater earthquake zone immediately after an event of this magnitude. Text and captions by Russell B. Wynn, Senior Research Scientist, Marine Geology and Ecology, National Oceanography Centre, U.K. 3-D color seafloor images sourced from the UK Hydrographic Office (www.ukho.gov.uk). Explore the Exhibit