Life in the Deep Sea: Only the Fragile Survive

At this year’s National Association for Biology Teachers conference, Steve Haddock from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, spoke on deep ocean habitats.   The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center sponsored the session on extreme environments and are now making all the videos available.  Steve’s excellent and visually impressive talk is above and demonstrates the wonder and beauty of the deep-sea pelagic zone.  Definitely a must watch for both information and entertainment.

And due to popular request we will be bringing back the TGIF.  Links for ocean related videos are always welcome.  Make suggestions in the comments below.

Text from Youtube on Steve’s Talk:

The deep ocean is the largest living space on Earth, abundant with diverse alien-looking life forms despite the fact that it is dark, cold, has limited resources and exerts high pressures. In response to these environmental challenges and unique ecological constraints, organisms have evolved a variety of forms and functions including transparent dome eye covers, cloaks of invisibility, and the ability to communicate by making bioluminescent light. Because there are few surfaces, morphologies have diversified in unconstrained manner resulting in 40-meter long jellies and diaphanous comb jellies that propel themselves with eyelash-like cilia. Many of these deep-sea species are not yet described, and current research involves understanding the diversity and relationships of these animals, as well as the genetic underpinnings of their unique bio-optical properties. Although they are obscure even to marine biologists and live in some of most unexplored habitats on the planet, these animals actually can occur as close as a few kilometers from a large city. This paradox underscores how much we have yet to learn about life on this planet.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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