There are places on earth where the sun’s life-giving light cannot reach. Nooks, crannies and vast planes on the ocean’s floor are bathed in total darkness and yet still are filled with life. This life can be strange and beautiful and you can learn more about it here in Long Beach at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s new exhibit gallery which opened last week.
Life as we know it depends, ultimately, on photosynthesis … the ability to transform sunlight into energy an organism can use. This is the case for many of the animals that live in the deep, dark ocean, as well. They depend upon what drifts down slowly into the darkness.
One example is a whale fall. When a whale dies and its body lands on the ocean’s floor below 6,600 feet, it becomes an island oasis for a variety of life. The Aquarium’s new Wonders of the Deep gallery includes a re-creation of a whale fall, complete with deep sea isopods, starfish, crabs, sea urchins and more.
The gallery also includes exhibits of chambered nautiluses, slime-producing hagfish, a representation of hydrothermal vents, and a moon jelly tank where you can pet these gelatinous creatures. You might be surprised to find that they are much more solid than they appear!
Beyond the new exhibit, you’ll find live video feeds, available several times a day, from the deep ocean where you will be able to interact with ocean explorers and scientists conducting research, right now, aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ship Okeanos Explorer and Bob Ballard’s ship Nautilus.
Also, throughout the year, you will have the opportunity to listen to researchers share their knowledge through the Ocean Exploration Guest Speaker series. In the Ocean Science Center, Great Hall and Ocean Theater, visitors can view films that showcase deep-sea animals, recently discovered creatures, and the history of ocean exploration.
“Through this program,” said Dr. Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO, “the Aquarium hopes to inspire a push to explore our planet’s last physical frontier — the World Ocean.”
“We don’t know enough to know how much we don’t know,” said Dr. Timothy Shank, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We need to know what’s there before we destroy it.” There are undiscovered treasures in the deep that may be lost forever if we don’t protect the oceans.
Ocean Exploration program
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
May 2013 – sometime in 2015
For more information: