The Deep: the Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss
© 2007 Claire Nouvian
I’ve been enjoying a gallery book devoted to the extraordinary creatures of the deep sea these past two weeks. Edited by Claire Nouvian, The Deep collects some of the best photography produced by the study of the ocean floor in the last decade, along with pieces by marine biologists and geologists commenting on the submarine ecosystem. The sheer abundance of life on the surface of the Earth boggles the mind, but more than 90% of the planet’s estimated biomass is within the oceans. The Deep is first and foremost a collection of photographs, presented in full-page or two-page spreads. They are a marvel; while some creatures have vaguely familiar shapes, resembling weird fish or weird octupi, the majority are…sights into themselves. Some are transparent, others string themselves with organic lights, putting bacteria to work. They exist in a world without light. While some only live in the deep seasonally, ascending to warmer and brighter waters when there’s more food for the taking, others never leave the seafloor. Some feast on the remains of the upper level of the ocean, like the vast carcasses of whales; others life off of chemicals seeping from the sea floor or being expelled. New species are constantly being discovered here, and many do not even have names; they exist as images that astound the mind with their alienness. What a treasure Earth is!
Hopefully something like this exists under the ice on Europa and Enceladus.
It would be a trick and a half to find out, though. I wonder how we would even approach getting inside those — I know the European space program landed a probe on Titan, but its power didn't last long.
Most definitely not going to be easy. Getting there is hard enough, then getting through the ice, and having a working swimming probe that can handle an unknown essentially 'subterranean' sea of unknown composition and stay active enough to actually find something – if it exists in the first place! TOUGH job… [lol]
I wonder if we have any way of gauging the pressure they'd be under if under the ice. We have some means of figuring out the pressure of atmospheric gases, otherwise the Russians would have never been able to land on Venus. (It took them quite a few tries, though! I've only watched the BBC version of “The Planets” once, but the Russians' sheer determination to land a probe intact is memorable.)