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Secret Lives of Deep-Sea Beasts Revealed
Live Science ^ | 06 March 2006 | Bjorn Carey

Posted on 03/07/2006 9:08:48 AM PST by GreenFreeper

Mysterious and seemingly monstrous beasts stalk the gloomy depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called midnight zone where virtually no sunlight reaches. Temperatures are near freezing and the space between one creature and another can be vast.

Scientists know very little about the species that inhabit this uninviting world more than a mile below the ocean's surface. For years it was believed that many of these fish nomadically wandered the ocean, munching on the organic debris that sinks from shallower waters.

Now, a massive marine expedition has uncovered the secret sex lives of these fish, revealing that they may gather at underwater mountains to spawn. And the ecosystem turns out to be far richer than thought.

The ongoing expedition has also collected 270 poorly known species and discovered 30 more.

Pelagic fish

Deep-sea fish that spend the bulk of their lives swimming in open water are known as pelagic fish. Few large-scale expeditions have been dedicated to studying these creatures, and most species knowledge comes from what turns up in trawling nets.

In fact, scientists know so little about these fish that 50 percent of the animals collected from deeper than 3,000 meters (1.86 miles) turn out to be unidentified species.

Little is known about how they reproduce. Assuming the fish are few and far between down there, how do they rendezvous to allow a species to thrive?

Using remotely operated vehicles, submersibles, massive trawling nets, and acoustic survey instruments, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Ecosystems (MAR-ECO) team discovered that pelagic fish turn up in droves around seamounts and deep-sea mountain ranges, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, to spawn.

The evidence comes in the form of images of a mysterious "scattering" layer derived from acoustic surveys 2,000 meters (1.24 miles) down. Swim bladders and eggs tend to produce defined, detectable acoustic signatures.

"This is the first time anyone has suggested that deep-sea pelagics form groups to spawn and then disperse again, which would require some homing ability or knowledge," said Tracey Sutton of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. "But I can't even speculate yet on what the trigger would be."

Beasts of the deep

Typically small, many pelagic fish have frightening, otherworldly looks. Some have giant fangs while others use malicious entrapment devices to catch prey. Many produce fluorescent light. Scientists give them names like "vampire fish from hell" and "saber-toothed viperfish."

However, the team hauled up a number of exceptionally large, rare fish, including some of the largest dragonfishes and anglerfishes ever collected. Anglerfishes typically fit in the palm of your hand, but one sample tipped the scales at 35 pounds.

They also caught a species of whalefish known only by one 1975 specimen. Limited species sampling, Sutton said, leads to classification difficulties. In some cases, male, female, and juveniles of the same species are classified as three separate species.

The MAR-ECO team also observed lush growth on the ridge, giving it the appearance of a saltwater oasis.

"The bottom was stunning," Sutton said. "There was far more growth and coral than we could have imagined. It looks like a tropical coral reef down there in places."

Findings from the MAR-ECO research and other projects could help conservation efforts for these rich ecosystems, which are endangered by deep-sea trawling activity, the researchers say.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: creatures; crevolist; discoveries; ecoping; environment; science; sea; wildlife

The MAR-ECO program strives to learn more about pelagic fishes, such as this anglerfish. Credit: Harbor Branch/E.Widder

From a separate study, a newfound deep-sea relative of the jellyfish, called an Erenna, flashes glowing red lights on twitching, stinging tentacles to lure fish to their deaths more than a mile below the surface. Credit: Casey Dunn

Tracey Sutton holding one of the largest anglerfishes ever collected. Credit: Harbor Branch

1 posted on 03/07/2006 9:08:51 AM PST by GreenFreeper
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

I want to study the secret sex lives of fish....

2 posted on 03/07/2006 9:11:36 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper

Now we know..........

3 posted on 03/07/2006 9:13:24 AM PST by Red Badger (And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him...)
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To: GreenFreeper

Are they good eatin'?


4 posted on 03/07/2006 9:15:10 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: GreenFreeper

Dang! That there ain't no fish. That there is one a' them space aliens. I'm skeered.


5 posted on 03/07/2006 9:20:55 AM PST by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: GreenFreeper
Some more links related to story:

Scientists Explore 'Lost City' of Strange Creatures

Deadly New Sea Creature Lures Fish with Red Lights

Elusive Giant Squid Finally Photographed

Photosynthesis Found Where the Sun Don't Shine

Five Deep-Sea Fish on Brink of Extinction

Eel City' Forms at New Undersea Volcano

New IMAX Film Brings Deep Sea to Life

Ocean Depths are Shark-Free

6 posted on 03/07/2006 9:21:45 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: PatrickHenry

Ping?


7 posted on 03/07/2006 9:23:58 AM PST by JTN ("I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of bubble gum.")
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To: GreenFreeper

I, for one, welcome our new Overlords.


8 posted on 03/07/2006 9:26:24 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (E)
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To: MineralMan
"Dang! That there ain't no fish. That there is one a' them space aliens. I'm skeered."

Naw, thats my mother-in-law after we told her she couldn't move into the spare room with us...

9 posted on 03/07/2006 9:27:21 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly catching hell for posting without reading since 2004)
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To: GreenFreeper

So like when are they going to discover giant sea serpents and Nessies???

parsy, the anxious.


10 posted on 03/07/2006 9:29:28 AM PST by parsifal ("Knock and ye shall receive!" (The Bible, somewhere.))
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To: GreenFreeper
This just in:

From deep, deep, deep below the ocean surface, where 100% of the light of truth is blocked...>

11 posted on 03/07/2006 9:32:43 AM PST by aMorePerfectUnion (outside a good dog, a book is your best friend. inside a dog it's too dark to read)
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To: parsifal
Duh! Nessie has already been discovered- its just an endangered species!


12 posted on 03/07/2006 9:35:34 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper; Carry_Okie
Notice...

Findings from the MAR-ECO research and other projects could help conservation efforts for these rich ecosystems, which are endangered by deep-sea trawling activity, the researchers say

The fish is endangered after the above comments of...

In fact, scientists know so little about these fish that 50 percent of the animals collected from deeper than 3,000 meters (1.86 miles) turn out to be unidentified species.Little is known about how they reproduce. Assuming the fish are few and far between down there, how do they rendezvous to allow a species to thrive?


Sounds like a bunch of do gooders not properly evaluating what they have for intelligent thesis...Which is it guys...You know nothing about the fish, yet you can conclude that it is endangered??? More time, and other experts brought in who have a more analytical mind sound like the call of the day to me.
13 posted on 03/07/2006 9:38:20 AM PST by Issaquahking
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To: GreenFreeper

Where is the obligatory photo of Ted Kennedy?


14 posted on 03/07/2006 9:40:43 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Peace Begins in the Womb)
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To: Issaquahking
findings from the MAR-ECO research and other projects could help conservation efforts for these rich ecosystems,

I want to know how we are going to be able to do anything to help conservation efforts of these creatures that we no very little about and have difficultly even finding.

15 posted on 03/07/2006 9:44:04 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper

Geez, man... these poor fish were just heading for a nice dark place to get it on, and we have to go down with searchlights and peek at them. How rude!


16 posted on 03/07/2006 10:15:36 AM PST by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Image hosting by Photobucket
17 posted on 03/07/2006 10:22:41 AM PST by Candor7 (Into Liberal Flatulence Goes the Hope of the West)
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To: GreenFreeper

Don't be too critical........they at least didn't include the other usual taglines: "....poor and blacks said to be most affected." ;<)


18 posted on 03/07/2006 10:24:05 AM PST by Unrepentant VN Vet ("Antique" MSM infers some remaining functionality; IMO they're the zombie media.)
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To: GreenFreeper
Tracey Sutton holding one of the largest anglerfishes ever collected killed
19 posted on 03/07/2006 10:35:13 AM PST by tx_eggman (Islamofascism ... bringing you the best of the 7th century for the past 1300 years.)
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To: Junior

Archive? Ping?


20 posted on 03/07/2006 10:52:14 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: GreenFreeper
" I want to study the secret sex lives of fish...."
I wonder if they use any birth prevention aids to control their populations.
21 posted on 03/07/2006 11:26:56 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: GreenFreeper

Someone posted that already. See post above yours.


22 posted on 03/07/2006 11:30:00 AM PST by JewishRighter
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To: JewishRighter

Mine looks much more inviting though!


23 posted on 03/07/2006 1:14:03 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: Issaquahking

It's not an unreasonable assumption. Orange roughy live 800-1500 meters deep. The temperature is low that deep, contributing to a very slow metabolism. As a result, the fish may live 150 years, growing very slowly. They do not reach sexual maturity until 20-30 years old. Uncontrolled fishing of this species could easily result in its extinction because the population simply can not grow fast enough to keep up with demand. They are not unusual among deep sea fish in their slow reproduction rate. Examination of yield from other deep sea fish stocks show that their population size is decreasing as well.

It's stupid to charge forth full speed ahead fishing out the oceans as fast as we can when we can't even know that the yields are sustainable.


24 posted on 03/07/2006 1:39:47 PM PST by ahayes
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