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Beyond sunlight: Explorers census 17,650 ocean species between edge of darkness and black abyss

it catches just above the seafloor.

  • At 1,000 to 3,000 meters (~.6-1.9 miles): NOAA researchers led by Mike Vecchione of the Smithsonian Institution collected a very large specimen of a rare, primitive animal known as cirrate or finned octopod, commonly called "Dumbos" because they flap a pair of large ear-like fins to swim, akin to the cartoon flying elephant. The jumbo Dumbo netted by Census explorers was estimated to be nearly two meters (~6 feet) long and, at 6 kg (~13 pounds), the largest of only a few specimens of the species ever obtained. Altogether, nine species of gelatinous "Dumbos" were collected on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, including one that may be new to science. Scientists were surprised to find such a plentiful and diverse assemblage of these animals, which rank among the largest in the deep sea.

    Dumbo octopod photo album and videos:

    On the October-November 2009 voyage to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge by Russian, Brazilian, South African and Uruguayan MAR-ECO explorers:

    • At 1,000 meters (~.6 miles): an "indescribable" catch of "invertebrates of all colors, including corals, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. It's hard to believe that such exuberance of life exists a kilometer deep into the ocean."

    On a 2007 voyage in the Gulf of Mexico by COMARGE explorers:

    • At 990 meters (~.6 miles): A solitary tubeworm (formally known as Lamellibrachia), in what looked like ordinary surroundings. After a robotic arm lifted the worm from a hole in the Gulf floor, however, crude oil streamed from both the animal and the open hole. The "wildcat" tubeworm had hit a gusher and was dining on chemicals from decomposing oil. See Video News Release:;

    • At 2,750 meters (~1.7 miles) in the

    Contact: Terry Collins
    Census of Marine Life

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