The ocean floor November 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm
Where these coral growths take hold, myriad creatures set up housekeeping in their branches. Spidery Chirostylid lobsters clamber about, seeking bits of food amid the coral polyps. Feather stars, some attached, some swimming, look from a distance like parts of the tree itself. The egg case of a filetail shark (Parmaturus xaniurus) clings to a branch at lower center. Sea anemones, sponges, starfish, mollusks, and barnacles live on and around the coral.
Fenisheye lens, looking straight down into Deep-I— star’s interior, gives an idea of how it feels for three people—a pilot and two passengers—to live in a six-foot-wide, instrument-crammed inner chamber for as long as eight hours at a stretch. More than an inch of steel protects us from the immense pressure and near-freezing temperature outside. But it still gets cold inside, since Deepstar isn’t heated.
Reclining on the pilot’s couch, I talk on the telephone with our mother ship, Burch. Tide, 1.400 feet above. My passengers, Dr. Eric Barham and Maria Regan O’Neal of the Naval Undersea Research and Development Center at San Diego, study the effects of the deep scattering layer—a zone of closely packed plankton—on sonar transmission.
Lines in infinite variety swirl and I ripple in the deep sea. The snipe eel Nemichthys often swims vertically, head down, undulating its 30-inch-long, pencil-thin body. Yard-high sea pens snare food with outstretched tentacles. At left, a foot-tall stem of a black coral (Bathypathes) sprouts from a rock; I collected it in Deepstar’s specimen basket and photographed it later against a setting sun. The jellyfish above swims by pulsating its 6-inch body.
A SUDDEN FLURRY of forms, hurtling straight at me out of the blackness, creates a startling sight Attracted by our Squids hang light, squids often ricochet off Deepstar and disappear. They cause no harm—being only a few inches long—but they stop motionless my heart momentarily. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Squid
Seven-inch-long Gonatvs, with tentacles raised, awaits a meal 3,000 feet down off La Jolla, California. Transparent 10-inch-long Galiteuthis appeared at 3,500 feet in the San Diego Trough. Kidney-shaped gills and reddish liver show clearly within its body.
Curled-up foot-long Histioteuthis, photographed at 2,000 feet, shows the larger of its two eyes to the camera; a much smaller eye faces away from Deepstar. Many squids range from the surface to great depths. It may be that the larger eye evolved for vision in the twilight zone while the other functions in brighter waters near the surface.
COMBING THE CURRENT with food-trapping tentacles, a lacy-armed starfish sits 4,000 feet deep in the San Diego Trough. Browsing heart urchins beyond it leave trails in the sediment. Despite great dissimilarities, the animals belong to the same phylum, Echinodermata, which also includes sea cucumbers.
Perhaps no member of the phylum is more spectacular than Gorgonocephalus, whose writhing foot-long tentacles recall the coiffure of serpents worn by Medusa, hideous Gorgon of Greek mythology. An 8-inch-wide feather star, also an echinoderm, waves its delicate arms. Both perch on a sponge 2,400 feet deep off California. Then i came back to my old town apartments prague.