Image: Courtesy of Mike Vecchione
Simply astonishing. The diversity of species that live beyond any hint of sunlight has astounded the team of international scientists as they near the end of a ten year deep sea census of marine life. The team has finally released a treasure trove of new photos and video from the deep sea census that will awe and amaze. Above, scientists appear to be examining -- or maybe cuddling and petting -- one of the largest and cutest of the deep sea species: a dumbo octopod, named for the oversized, dumbo-like ears it uses for swimming (photo overleaf). Our pick of the best of the photos, released today, of some 17,650 species now known to thrive in the watery depths follows.
Image: Courtesy of David Shale
The dumbo octopod, among the largest deep sea creatures at lengths up to five feet, hovers cutely before the camera, flapping ears like a cartoon elephant. The "jumbo dumbo" scientists are holding in the photo above measured nearly two meters (about 6 feet) long, the largest of the few specimens of the species ever found. The one pictured here may be a new species among the nine "Dumbos" found so far.
An odd sea cucumber found at 2,750 m deep in the Northern Gulf of Mexico swims slowly up the length of its own tentacles. Moving at only 2cm per minute, the translucent creature sucks up a meal of detritus-rich sediments collected on the tentacles.
A golden copepod looks like a coin from a lost treasure until the camera gets up close to see magnified detail of this insect-like marine crustacean. Fully 99 percent of some 680 copepod specimens collected in the deep sea census were new to science.
This is the first photograph ever made of a Neocyema on the mid-Atlantic ridge, and only the 5th specimen ever caught of the bizarre, elongated orange fish.