Discover the Deep Sea

Life in the Dark

ocean, exploration

Which means there are so many mysteries left to unfold, especially in the deep sea. As you dive deeper and deeper into the ocean, light fades into darkness, the water temperature drops close to freezing and the pressure greatly increases. Yet, so much life exists in the depths. Scientists may not fully understand all of these deep sea creatures’ adaptations to living in an extreme environment, but as we continue to explore and technology progresses, we will learn more about these strange and mysterious animals.

How do deep sea creatures live without sunlight?

Some animals are essentially blind and instead rely on their other, enhanced senses including smell, touch and vibration. Other species have evolved the ability to produce a “chemical” light called bioluminescence. You may have seen bioluminescence before, for example when plankton are glowing in breaking ocean waves or when a lightening bug shines. For deep sea animals, bioluminescence can act as headlights, help species communicate, attract a mate, lure in prey or deter predators. The generally blue or blue-green light is low compared to sunlight, so many deep sea animals have also evolved massive eyes to capture what little light does exist.

bioluminescence, plankton, waves

Two Deep Ocean Games

To educate students about how these deep sea animals adapt to life in complete darkness, we have a fun, indoor KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plan) activity called All that Glitters (below "Living Underwater"). In the first game, using homemade deep sea dive goggles and different color bits of paper, students will learn what happens to light and colors as you dive deeper and deeper into the dark ocean. In the second game, adding in some flashlights, students will discover how deep sea creatures use bioluminescence to find prey, but may also attract predators.

All that Glitters is free and downloadable - all you need to do is register here!

deep sea, fish, bioluminescence

With every expedition in the deep sea, more species are being discovered and their unique lifestyles and adaptations to extreme environmental conditions being better understood.