Bioluminescence And The Deep Sea

Last night I was watching a documentary that detailed the dissection of a giant squid in order to learn more about the elusive creature. Very few live giant squid have been seen in action. The documentary reminded me of how deep our oceans are and the mystery that surrounds the unknown depths. Despite pain staking research from marine biologists we still only know a fraction of what is down there. The deep sea world can be described as alien in comparison to the image of beautiful coral reefs and tropical fish.

In the deep sea, animals have relied on bioluminescence for a number of defensive, hunting and escape tactics. Cephalopods of all shapes and sizes can be found in the depths.

image_2716-vampire-squidOne of the most unique animals in the vampire squid that resides in lightless depths of 3000 feet or more. The animal derives its name from its bizarre appearance and sinister looking ‘teeth’ on the underside of its arms. When the vampire squid is threatened it will pull back its tentacles over its head to bear the teeth and seem more intimidating. The ‘teeth’ are in fact harmless spines that are used only as a defensive mechanism.

Deep sea exploration has shown a number of break throughs throughout the years. Due to the pressure and extreme conditions found in those environments elaborate technology has been created.

The possibility of discovering new species is endless. Animals that have been considered extinct have been caught by fisherman. An example is a relative of the lungfish called the Coelacanth. It was thought to be extinct since the end of the Cretaceous Period but was caught off the east coast of South Africa in 1938.copyright-peter-timm-3

The deep sea continues to fascinate researchers. It drives them to plumb the deepest trenches in search of answers. The science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke made the point that we know more about the moon than what is in the ocean. If we’re looking for alien life then the best place to start is to go to the bottom before we reach the stars.


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