Photos of Strange Deep Sea Creatures from Marine Census Beyond Sunlight

Colorful Coral

Image: Courtesy of NIWA, New Zealand's Ministry of Fisheries & Foundation for Research Science and Technology, and Land Information New Zealand

The richness and range of colors in the coral found at 1000 meters deep surprised researchers. "It's hard to believe that such exuberance of life exists a kilometer deep into the ocean," reflected one team member on the indescribably diverse collection of life found. Cataloging the number and types of species will engage scientists for some time to come.

Fish Age Bands

Image: Courtesy of Rebecca Hunter

Tiny bones in the ears of Coryphaenoides brevibarbis, commonly called the rat-tail, tell the age of the fish, much like rings in a tree trunk. Scientists use this information to compare growth rates for determining the amount of food in the area the fish is found. The rat-tail lives on crustaceans it catches just above the sea floor at 1,700 to 4,300 meters deep.

Underwater Robot

Image: Courtesy of Chris German, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists collect the underwater robot Nereus amid rough seas as tropical storm Ida threatens. The mission to track water column signals of hydrothermal venting fails within a few hundred meters of its goal, but scientists will finish the work on the next mission in 2010. Fantastic video of the missions can be found at the Census of Marine Life.

More Deep Sea Wonders:
Census of Marine Life
World's Deepest Living Fish Caught On Camera
Bizarre Tongue-Eating Parasite Discovered Off the Jersey Coast
Barbarians at the Gates: Jellyfish Are Taking Over the Oceans

Tags: Biodiversity | Conservation | Evolution | Oceans