Deep Ocean

Difficult to reach, the deep ocean is still very much a mystery and is often explored using remotely operated vehicles or submarines. The deep sea is vast and dark, but many organisms call this area home. 

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A deep-sea octopod wraps itself around a submersible’s robotic arm in the Gulf of Mexico.

DIVE DEEPER

The Deep Sea

Deep below the ocean’s surface is a mysterious world that takes up 95% of Earth’s living space. It could hide 20 Washington...
Tiny "flakes" of marine snow.

Marine Snow: A Staple of the Deep

Snow on land can make some people grumpy, but the magical-looking flakes and a beautiful layer on the trees can turn even disenchanted adults into gleeful children again. But what is the ocean equivalent...

How Coastal Seagrass Feeds the Deep

Seagrasses are flowering plants that can form dense underwater meadows and are an important shallow water habitat. Credit: Heather Dine, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary It is a well-known fact that for animals living...

Drugs From the Deep with Shirley Pomponi

Dr. Shirley Pomponi talks about thirty years of experience diving and searching for chemicals in deep-sea sponges that may prove vital to humans. Read more about her work , or see other lectures from...

Bioluminescence in Art and Science with Edie Widder

Dr. Edie Widder spoke at the National Museum of Natural History as a part of the Changing Tides Lecture Series and discussed her work on underwater light: light chemically produced by animals through a...
A red and white colored bristle worm swims in the water column.

Five Questions with Brigitte Ebbe, Polychaete Pundit

Now that the Census of Marine Life is over, we’re checking in with some of the researchers to hear about their favorite expedition, what they learned, and how the Census and its findings continue...
Zombie worm eats whale bones in Japan's Sagami Bay

Zombie Worms Crave Bone

Credit: Yoshihiro Fujiwara/JAMSTEC Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to 7 centimeter) Osedax worms were first discovered living in the bones of a rotting gray...
A photo of a squid using bioluminescence to hide in the deep sea.

Bioluminescence

You may have seen the sparkle of fireflies on a summer’s night. The fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction in their glowing abdomens, a process known as bioluminescence. But did you know that...

How Oil Feeds the Deep Sea

Positioned in front of a natural oil seep, this video camera is capturing images of the black oil bubbling up from beneath the sea floor. A light mounted to the frame helps see what...

Oil Invades Coral Communities of the Deep

On the deep seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystems made up of fish, corals, sea stars, anemones and other invertebrates flourish. Since the sun’s rays don’t reach the deep sea, coral communities rely...

How Methane Fueled a Food Web after the Gulf Oil Spill

The Johnson-Sea-Link submersible launches to study cold-water corals off Florida in 2009. Credit: ©2011arthowardphototography.com by Hannah Waters In August 1994, Mandy Joye dove to the deep sea in a submersible for the first time...
A submersible explores the deep reefs off of Curacao in the Caribbean.

Exploring Deep Reef Ecosystems in a Submersible: The Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP)

The Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) is a Smithsonian research program launched to explore marine life and monitor changes on deep reefs in the southern Caribbean. Found below SCUBA diving depths, deep reefs may...

The Discovery of Two Extreme Sea Stars

Two new species of sea stars were discovered in the deep sea: Paulasterias tyleri (on the left) in a North Pacific hydrothermal vent community, and Paulasterias mcclaini (on the right) in the deep sea...

Wavechasers and the Samoan Passage

Watch as a team of wave chasers heads to Somoa where they search for an undersea river five kilometers beneath the ocean's surface. There they measured skyscraper-sized internal gravity waves, which break and produce...
Aegina, a type of jellyfish, swims through the water.

The Surprising Elegance of Midwater Sea Life

Imagine a hollow cube, measuring one foot on each side, suspended in the ocean at a depth roughly three football fields below the surface. From here, the seafloor is another 4,000 feet (or 1,200...
Riftia tubeworm (Riftia pachyptila) colonies near hot spring.

The Microbes That Keep Hydrothermal Vents Pumping

These tubeworm colonies grow where hot, mineral-laden water flows out of the seafloor in undersea hot springs. Credit: ©2003 MBARI By Lyndsy Gazda & the Ocean Portal Team Life is typically sparse on the...

15 Creatures in the Gulf of Mexico that are Stranger Than Fiction

Credit: © 2015 DEEPEND/Danté Fenolio The Gulf of Mexico coastal region is known for its seafood —shrimp, spiny lobsters, crawfish and oysters just to name a few. Crawfish and shrimp boils, where spiced seafood...

Discover Deep-sea Corals in Maine

Scientists with NOAA Fisheries discovered deep-sea coral gardens in relatively shallow waters of the Gulf of Maine in 2014. As their name suggests, deep-sea corals live in cold oceanic waters. Unlike shallow-water corals, however,...
A map of the Mid Ocean Ridge

Making a Mark on the Ocean Floor

Until very recently oceanography was a field dominated by men. A seafaring career, oceanography was still influenced by the superstitions of ship life; a woman on board was considered to bring bad luck. It...

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