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Imagine: You’re in a small submersible, and you gently settle on the soft muddy bottom at a depth of 12,000 feet. It’s absolutely dark. What will you see when the exterior lights are turned...
Scientists describe the amazing bioluminescent creatures they encounter as they...
Imagine you’re an alien seeing Planet Earth for the first time. What do you see...
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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they...

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Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at around 2 centimeters per...
This jelly’s red color provides camouflage in the deep ocean. Red light...
Zombie worms ( Osedax roseus ) eat away at the bones of a dead whale that...

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It may be the last place you’d expect to find corals—up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where the water is...
Thousands of seamounts—most of them undersea volcanoes—tower above the muddy seafloor. They provide something hard to come by in the deep ocean : a solid surface to cling to. This photo gallery shows...
Last week, Smithsonian research zoologists Dr. Jerry Harasewych and Dr. Martha Nizinski were in Curaçao looking for deep-sea marine gastropods and decapod crustaceans , respectively. I learned they...
The robotic arm of the Jason, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), collects several stalks of black coral from the seafloor. Read more about how underwater vehicles help ocean scientists study deep-sea...
This map shows where some of the most significant species of deep-sea corals are located. Learn more about the distribution and ecology of deep ocean corals in the article " Coral Gardens of the Deep...
Found 1,751 m (5,745 ft) below the surface of Hawaii’s waters in 2007, this orange bamboo coral is 1.2–1.5 m (4–5 ft) tall. It is thought to represent a new genus. Learn about more deep-sea...
Colorful corals and brittlestars inhabit the Manning Seamount in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New England. Here you can see golden-colored coral (Enallopsamia rostrata), pinkish-brown coral (...
This jelly’s red color provides camouflage in the deep ocean. Red light rarely reaches those depths, and most deep-sea animals have lost the ability to see red. The long, complex tentacles of this...
Deep-sea species like this dragonfish ( Bathophilus indicus ) live in cold, dark waters and may go weeks or months between meals. When food is found, the fish uses its impressive teeth—including some...
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 to...
An orange brisingid starfish sits on a large reef of Lophelia pertusa, cold-water corals in the Gulf of Mexico, at 450 m depth as a school of fish swims above. They have many arms—up to 20!—covered...
These deep-sea corals at the Madison-Swanson Marine Reserve in the Gulf of Mexico are protected, along with the marine life they harbor. Learn more about deep-sea corals and marine protected areas in...
A still from Mysteries of the Deep , part of the 19th Annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital.
See a few of the many species of deep-sea corals that have been discovered by scientists just since 2004. Learn about more deep-sea discoveries in our Deep-sea Corals article.
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at...
Tropical hatchetfish ( Argyropelecus lychnus ), like the one shown in this X-ray photograph, live in the dark depths of the ocean ; this specimen was collected at about 2,789 feet (850 meters) in the...
Take a look at strange deep-sea creatures rarely seen before. Scientists and students from 16 nations photographed these creatures on an expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Take the dive and...
After ocean scientists sort deep-sea corals according to their different types, they carefully measure and photograph the specimens. Find out how ocean scientists study deep-sea corals in our Deep-...
This lizardfish ( Bathysaurus ferox ) rests on the ocean bottom with its head slightly elevated—waiting to snatch prey with its large mouth and sharp teeth. It lives at depths of 600-3,500 meters (1,...
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