Did you know that whale's carcasses are deep sea ecosystems? From new species, to rare ancient animals, these are 10 Deep Sea Discoveries !
Whale-Falls …. You can think of it as a deep sea graveyard. These areas are created when the carcass of a cetacean has fallen to the abyssal zone on the ocean floor, at depths of over 6000 feet. Complex ecosystems are created usually arriving in 3 stages: First, mobile scavengers like sharks arrive, followed by smaller animals like crabs and shrimp. Eventually, bacteria shows up to break down fats, while Osedax (ossa-dx), also known as zombie worms because they have no eyes or mouth, extract bone marrow. Decades worth of sustenance can be provided to deep sea organisms thanks to these localized ecosystems. It’s not unlike an all-you can eat buffet courtesy of the friendly neighborhood whale.
Cradle of Marine Life -- Between 2002 and 2005 an international team of scientists examined samples from the Antarctica's Weddell (wed-dell) Sea and nearby areas at depths up to 20,000 feet, discovering at least 700 new species. Among the creatures documented were a gourd-shaped carnivorous sponge (called Chondrocladia kon-dro-clay-dee-uh), free-swimming worms, and nearly 674 species of isopod crustaceans, 585 of which had never before been encountered. Angelika Brandt, the head researcher said, “The Antarctic deep sea is potentially the cradle of life of the global marine species.”
(huge sea sponge)
In 2009, researchers from the US and Australia explored the Tasman Fracture Zone. Located off Australia’s south coast, the team found several new species, including Australia’s deepest known carnivorous sea squirt, giant sponges and sea spiders. In addition, the researchers found deep sea fossil corals that dated over 10,000 years old at depths of 1 mile. The 4 week expedition used a deep-diving US submarine that was about the size of a small car and could reach depths of more than 2.5 miles!
Hypothesizing among scientists that deep sea fish make noise had been going on for half a century. That was based on the observation that fish possess organs which can be used for said purpose. In 2012, scientists managed to catch 12 distinct sounds believed to have originated from deep sea fish. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts lowered a hydrophone into the water over 2,200 meters deep and let it record for 24 hours. Typical noises of whales and dolphins were identified … but so were those 12 other unique sounds, which included grunting and quacking noises. Since most fish emit low-frequency sounds, it’s thought the noises could have originated from deep sea fish, such as monkfish. Because deep sea fish live in darkness, the noises might function as ‘calls’ by which to communicate with each other. Think those fish would have some deep conversations? Let us know in the comments!
A rarely-seen deep sea creature was observed -- and caught -- in 2013. A Florida fisherman caught the 14-foot monster, which was described as a dinosaur. While it wasn’t a dinosaur, it must have been pretty old … it had barnacles on it. It was actually identified as a deep sea species called a “Hookskate” or “Fingerskate”, and weighed some 800 pounds. There still isn’t much known about creature except that it seems to live at depths of 3000 feet and belongs to the same family as the more recognizable stingray. They’ve been found in waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico, southern Brazil and the east coast of Florida where this one was caught. The fisherman, Mark Quartino, released the fish back to the ocean after tagging it. Maybe Mr. Quartino had some sympathy … his nickname is “Mark the Shark”!
A octopus from the deep sea was captured on video by a remotely operated camera ... 1.25 miles deep into the abyss off the Oregon coast. Researchers made the discovery in 2005, but only released their findings in 2011. The ghostly creature was actually a dumbo octopus, known to live closely to a hydrothermal vent sprouting from underwater volcanoes in the northeast Pacific Ocean. They’re the deepest dwelling members of any octopus species, some of them living as far down as 23,000 feet. Because of that, they are rarely seen. Not a whole lot is known about these creatures, since such extreme depths would crush most submarines like a soda can. We do know where they get their name, though: It’s due to their fins that resemble the ears of Disney’s Dumbo elephant. But some people think the octopus more closely resembles Boos, the nemesis of Mario Brothers. What do you think?
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