Tag: twilight zone

The Oceanic Twilight Zone Is A World Like No Other

There lies in the ocean an unseen world that is filled with creatures beyond the imagination. It lies 660 to 3,300 feet below and is known to scientists as the twilight zone. Not much research has been done on this layer of the ocean, but it is believed that there are more animals here than anywhere else in the world.

There’s a group of scientists currently studying this area’s bizarre inhabitants and they are hoping their research can help find a more sustainable approach to the surface’s fisheries.

Creatures Beyond Science-Fiction

The ocean’s creatures are unique compared to those on land because they each hold their own auditory signature that our ships can detect using our own sound waves. The animals that reside in the twilight zone are also known to produce their own light through different chemical reactions.

This light helps them blend in with the light flowing from the surface. Hatchet fish use this technique called counter-illumination to hide from predators looking for their silhouettes from below. Other animals down here may turn their eyes into giant lenses (like how our eyes adjust to light) or even opt to use other senses instead like the Fangtooth. The Fangtooth is known to bump into objects and other fish using pressure sensors on the sides of its body.

The Great Migration

Biologists have known about a vertical migration since the 1800s because their sample nets seemed to come back fuller at night than during the day. The size of the migration wasn’t discovered till World War II when the Navy sailors detected what they called a “false bottom” on their sonar screens.

The “false bottom” was later named the deep scattering layer as it occasionally rose toward the surface each night and sank again the next morning. This layer is produced when sound waves reflect off gas-filled swim bladders or fat droplets within the migrating creatures. This daily migration is one of the largest in the world and it happens every day. Every night creatures from the dark come to the surface just to return to the depths in the morning.

What is the point? Why travel such long distances every single night? The simple answer is food. They do it for survival, but it also helps our planet regulate climate change.

Helping The Earth’s Climate

The creatures that reside in the twilight zone are very small which is very important in an environment like this since small things don’t eat as much. However, when these organisms travel to the surface at night they will often eat the plant material there before traveling downward.

The plant material they eat consists of a large amount of carbon and through the organism, it gets transferred from the surface to the ocean depths. The animals from the twilight zone will then recycle the carbon they collected as feces, breath it out as carbon dioxide, or just turn it into dissolved organic carbon. This entire process has helped the planet regulate the amount of carbon dioxide that exists in our atmosphere. It’s just another important piece to the giant carbon cycle puzzle.

Deep-Sea Fisherman’s Catches Will Make You Rethink Your Next Dip In The Ocean

While it may be tempting to believe that humans are pretty well-versed on most of our planet’s creatures, prepare to think again. Considering that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, we know fairly little about what exactly lurks beneath the waves. It’s estimated that up to 80% of the underwater realms of our oceans remain unexplored.

Roman Fedorstov’s Crazy Catches

That’s where a deep-sea fisherman named Roman Fedorstov comes in. Based in the port city of Murmansk, Russia, Roman spends his days fishing in the Arctic Ocean.  There he comes across all manner of insane sea creatures, many of which look like something from another planet altogether. Consider yourself forewarned that what you’re about to see may not be the best viewing material for the easily freaked out or those who regularly love indulging in seafood buffets.

Roman decided to help advance the cause of science by sharing some of his most bizarre deep-sea catches on his Instagram account. Once the Internet got a load of the strange and often grotesque creatures that Roman regularly pulls up from the depths, he began to build a following which is now close to 50,000.

If you’re wondering where some of these creatures have been hiding, then fear not. Here’s a sort of crash course in the deep sea regions they call home.

The Literal Twilight Zone

First, you’ve got the what’s commonly known as the ocean’s “twilight zone,” a place where few scuba divers dare to lurk. It’s only in the recent past that scuba equipment capable of safely transporting divers to this zone has even begun to be developed.

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It's Monday!)

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The twilight zone is technically known as the Mesopelagic and it’s not easy to get too. In order to take a trip there, you’d be faced with swimming down anywhere from 200 to 1,000 meters (around 660 to 3,300 feet) beneath the ocean’s surface.

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Scary, but tasty. Страшный, но вкусный.

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If that’s not quite crazy enough for you, then rest assured that an even deeper part of the ocean called the Bathyal zone, also known as the ‘midnight zone.’

The Midnight Zone

The midnight zone extends 1,000 to 4,000 meters deep (3,300 to 13,000 feet) and takes its name from the fact that not a speck of sunlight is able to reach it. Here you’ll find animals you won’t see in your average aquarium and there’s actually a pretty good reason why.

Creatures that call the midnight zone their homes have adapted to a very specific set of conditions that involve super cold water and very high pressure. Combine that with the need for complete darkness and it makes for hard conditions to recreate on land, much less in an aquarium environment.

That said, there are some aquariums that have attempted it, though the vast majority of them have been set up for research purposes alone. The only exception is an aquarium in France which set up an “Abyss Box.” Unfortunately, their tank was only big enough to hold about 16 liters of water so they stuck to displaying small crustaceans.

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From the Dark Water. Photo by @trapman_bermagui

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Considering that most of these faces are those that only a mother fish could love, perhaps it’s best that, for the most part, they’re left to enjoy their deep-sea habitat.