Friday, June 15, 2012

Image of the Week: Deep Sea Life Under Pressure

Image Courtesy: NOAA Ocean Explorer and Kevin Raskoff, California State University, Monterey Bay. (CC)
This stunning red deep sea jellyfish from the genus Crossota was photographed during the "Hidden Ocean Expedition" in 2005. That summer, a team of scientists from the United States, Canada, China and Russia embarked on a journey to explore the frigid depths of the Canada Basin, one of the deepest parts of the Arctic Ocean. This jelly, our image of the week, is just one of the many beautiful, bizarre, and mysterious creatures that inhabit the deep sea.

To many scientists, the deep sea (generally defined as below 200 meters) is the Earth's last frontier, and it remains one of the least explored places on our planet. In human history, 12 people have walked on the moon but only three have ever been to the deepest part of the ocean--an area called Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. And we know relatively little about the lifeforms that call the deep sea home. Which species live there? How do their ecosystems function? Physiologically, how do they withstand the extreme high pressure?

This week's issue of Science News features several scientists who are coming up with inventive ways to answer these questions, including a contraption called the Abyss Box. Check out Susan Gaidos' feature story Defying Depth to learn more.

For more images of incredible deep sea creatures, browse NOAA's Aliens from the Deep gallery.

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