What is the deep sea like?

This April 24, 2016, image made available by NOAA shows a bioluminescent jellyfish during a deepwater exploration of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument area in the Pacific Ocean near Guam and Saipan.
This April 24, 2016, image made available by NOAA shows a bioluminescent jellyfish during a deepwater exploration of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument area in the Pacific Ocean near Guam and Saipan. | NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via Associated Press

Lurking in the depths of the ocean, giant squids were thought by many to be mythic creatures.

Myths and folktales of squid-like creatures known as krakens circulated around for centuries. In Scandinavian folklore, krakens would sometimes destroys ships and drag them down into the ocean, per National History Museum. It’s possible sightings of giant squids led this mythology to develop.

While Western science classified and named the giant squid in 1857, the animal wasn’t photographed until 2004. Science Focus said zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera and whale watcher Kyoichi Mori were in a sperm whale hunting ground off of the Ogasawara Islands and they photographed the giant squid.

The giant squid is just one example of the secrets the sea holds — especially the deep sea. Now scientists are saying they discovered more than 5,000 new species in the Pacific Ocean, according to The Guardian.

In an area called the Clarion-Clipperton Zone — between Hawaii and Mexico — scientists were investigating the ocean floor. The area has been identified as a spot for future deep sea mining. The Guardian reported, “Most of the animals identified by researchers exploring the zone are new to science, and almost all are unique to the region: only six, including a carnivorous sponge and a sea cucumber, have been seen elsewhere.”

The report published in Current Biology said they catalogued 5,578 total species and 92% of them were species who hadn’t been seen before. They estimate that anywhere from 6,109 to 8,514 different species may live in the area.

Researchers examined over 100,000 records of creatures during their series of explorations of this area. CBS News said, “The most common types of animals found in the underwater region are arthropods (invertebrates with segmented joints), worms, echinoderms (spiny invertebrates such as sea urchins), and sponges, including one that’s carnivorous.”

One of the co-authors of the study Muriel Rabone said, per Science News, “The diversity down there does surprise me. It’s just astonishing.” He also said due to the area being “deep and remote,” it can be difficult to collect data.

What is the deep sea?

The deep sea is a term for the part of the ocean which has extreme conditions due to its depth — typically beginning around 656 feet.

It’s an area on the earth where scientists have only just exploring. According to the Marine Bio Conservation Society, human exploration has led scientists to discover more about the surface of the moon and Mars than about the deep sea. “Consider that hydrothermal vents and their unique organisms, which revolutionized our ideas about energy sources and the adaptability of life, were only discovered in 1977. There may be yet other life-altering discoveries to be found at the bottom of the ocean.”

What depth is deep sea?

The deep sea is the area where sunlight begins to disappear. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said deep sea typically begins at around 656 feet.

The deep sea looks different than the ocean we’re used to seeing. When swimming in the ocean at the beach, sunlight warms up the water and due to the light, you can see the bottom of the ocean often times. NOAA said when deep sea begins at around 656 feet, it’s a “twilight zone.” Subsequently, the deep sea has extreme conditions like intense pressure, lack of light, cold temperatures and below 3,280 feet, there’s no light (and no photosynthesis) at all.

The deepest depth of the ocean is around 36,070 feet deep, according to the Smithsonian Institute. For reference, this means the deepest part of the ocean is roughly 6,561 feet more deep than Mount Everest is tall.

What creatures are in the deep sea?

There are several creatures which live in the deep sea. The Monterey Bay Aquarium said these animals live in the deep sea:

  • Apple anemone.

  • Basket star.

  • Bloody-belly comb jelly.

  • Bone-eating worm.

  • Common fangtooth.

  • Deep-sea anglerfish.

  • Filetail catshark.

  • Midwater jelly.

  • Pacific hagfish.

  • Pom-pom anemone.

  • Sea angel.

  • Sea spider.

  • Squat lobster.

  • Vampire squid.