The deep sea has always been a place of dangerous secrets for humanity. Even if it has been a while since we left the oceans to live a better and drier life outside, the fear of what lies below the depths is still somewhere in all of us.
To date, with all of our best technology, we know little about the deepest parts of our oceans. Exploring it is almost impossible thanks to the immense – almost unimaginable – pressure in these depths and the absolute darkness.
What we do know, however, is that despite the inhospitable conditions, the deep sea is full of animals and plants – and everything in between ̵
8. All About Jellyfish
Most people are not strangers to jellyfish because they thrive in waters around the world. They are not particularly noteworthy, apart from their strange body structure and the unnecessarily high stabbing force. As long as they stay away from us, most of us don't even think about them.
However, if you find out about them, you will find that jellyfish – a wide umbrella of marine animals – silently try to take over the world all over the world. We are not exaggerating. Jellyfish populations have mysteriously increased in many independent regions. The explanations range from global warming to sudden abundance of oil platforms giving them more room to thrive – although no one can really say for sure.
And that's not all: jellyfish are generally also an immensely understaffed part of marine life. They reproduce in a way that is completely alien to everything we know. One species is even immortal or as immortal as you can get anyway. And yes, it tacitly increases its population, much like most other species of jellyfish. They are also the oldest species we know and one of the most mysterious.
7. The inexplicably high biodiversity in the deep sea
It is difficult for an average person to imagine how inhospitable some parts of the ocean are. Beyond a point, things like high pressure and no visibility don't mean much to most of us. It is therefore difficult to imagine that any kind of life can survive in these depths. However, based on everything we need to know about the deep sea, life in the deep sea is much more diverse and more numerous than any other ecosystem that we know.
The deep sea is home to most of the world's biodiversity, and we still don't know how it came about. Much of it is microorganisms that have evolved over thousands of years to survive in the harshest conditions on earth. There are also some large animals, including the largest invertebrate we know: the colossal octopus .
6. The Underwater River
Anyone who has traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico would like to tell you all about its unique topography and numerous natural attractions. Yucatan is known for cenotes; natural water-filled holes in the ground of various shapes and sizes that lead to one of the most extensive and least researched cave systems in the world.
While many more secrets are waiting to be discovered in the depths of some of the deeper cenotes, one of them – Angelita – is home to a particularly peculiar one. If you dive up to 100 feet you will see an entire river flowing under the bright blue water. It's really not rocket science. The salty groundwater is heavier than the fresh water closer to the surface. The difference in density makes the river below look like an underwater river. Biodiversity is also quite high, although we still don't know if it is a unique phenomenon or if these rivers occur in the cave systems. Most cenotes have their own, almost unique ecosystems, although most of them remain unexplored due to inaccessibility and lack of funds.
5. Completely new type of hydrothermal vents
If you venture too far into the depths of the ocean, you may find things you have never seen before. This is not an exaggeration. The ocean floor is still largely unexplored and we are still finding things that are completely new to our current understanding of underwater life. Take the all-new type of hydrothermal vents in the deep sea off the Caribbean coast, which can just as well be an alien ecosystem.
Hydrothermal vents are important because they house some of the earliest and most diverse types of life found on Earth. Studying is the key to answering some of our biggest questions that we'll cover shortly. The search for a completely new one opens a number of doors for our researchers, although it would take a while before we can completely decipher them.
These vents are unlike anything we've seen so far, with completely different types of minerals and chemistry than any other vent system observed. It also shows that the ocean floor is not static and unchangeable, as we imagine, but is constantly exposed to the massive tectonic forces of the earth.
4. The secret of bioluminescence
Almost everyone knows that the ocean is full of organisms that can produce and even control light. It is one of the most unique biological features in nature, although it makes sense that deep-sea creatures without noise or light must have developed some luminescence to look around.
As more research finds out, bioluminescence can be a much more important part of deep sea life than we ever thought. Over 76% marine animals have this ability, although we don't fully understand how they all use it. It has been observed that many deep-sea creatures – including microbes – communicate with them and find food. Maybe it's just a whole new language of the deep sea that we just don't understand yet. Its development also remains a mystery, including the fact that it is found almost exclusively in the lower simpler branches of the Tree of Life.
3. Whatever that is
Because of its inaccessibility, it is almost impossible for us to explore the deep sea at all. In fact, most of the actual exploration of deep sea creatures is done by the oil drilling industry, which gives us some of the only images – and a much needed insight into life in the deep sea.
While it is great to occasionally spot a new species of animal. Sometimes this animal turns out to be so scary that we wished we had never spotted it. A typical example: The massive and mysterious squid-like thing recorded by oil wells in the Colombian South Caribbean.
We really have no idea what that is without a better look, though as far as we can tell it could be a specimen of the Magnapinna family of squid. It is a ridiculously under-studied species because a living member has never been caught or fully observed in the wild. That is probably the best.
2. The Secret of Life Itself
Of all the deep sea secrets, the greatest was and remains the secret of life. Of course, we will never be able to answer this question reliably, because it is impossible to replicate or even know the conditions on the planet at the time of the first living beings. However, some research suggests the possibility that life may not have come from the sky in the form of an asteroid, but from the deepest parts of our oceans.
The above-mentioned hydrothermal vents in the deepest pockets of our oceans are not only full of life, but also life that cannot be seen anywhere else on the planet. These vents are home to fauna and microbes that do not require light to survive or in some cases even oxygen. According to some scientists, hydro-thermal vents may have been the perfect place for early life, and simple metabolic reactions in these vents may have created the first living things. While we may never find out completely, exploring the deep sea can only be the key to closing the missing gaps in our evolutionary history.
1. The ocean is ridiculously unexplored
When we talk about how unexplored the oceans really are, we cannot really instinctively gauge what that means. In the age of spaceships and almost futuristic exploration equipment, "unexplored" we don't connect anything to any part of the planet because we are at more important exploration boundaries, such as space.
It is therefore surprising for most people that the deep sea is far less explored than space, which would be the case for a long time. In fact, we were now over 550 times in space. The deepest point of the ocean was only touched in 2019 and only three other people have ever reached these depths. According to some estimates, around 95% of the oceans and 99% of the seabed are unexplored.
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