On Saturday, the Monterey Bay Aquarium unveiled its latest exhibit, Into The Deep, a show of deep-sea animals and ecosystems in contrast to anything. On every other day on the Aquarium, hoards of individuals gathered across the iconic kelp forest show, charismatic sea otters, or huge open ocean tank that spans two tales. However, upon Into The Deep’s opening, the exhibit was rapidly flooded with adults and kids, a testomony to the lure of the mysterious deep sea and the curiosity it conjures up.
“The deep sea is the biggest dwelling area on earth,” mentioned Kevin Connor, Director of Communications at Monterey Bay Aquarium, “We all know extra in regards to the floor of Mars than we do in regards to the floor of our personal planet underwater.”
Comprised of over 50 species with greater than 200 completely different animals anticipated to rotate by means of within the coming years, this exhibit is made potential by a sequence of distinctive alternatives. The aquarium sits on the fringe of Monterey Canyon, a large underwater habitat that’s deeper than the Grand Canyon the place lots of the species on exhibit originate. And, the animals are captured and studied by scientists on the close by Monterey Bay Aquarium Analysis Institute (MBARI).
The exhibit opens with a 3D mannequin of Monterey Canyon that overlooks the decrease stage of the open ocean tank, acclimatizing guests to the place the journey to the deep sea begins. Guests than traverse the midwater gallery the place the final rays of daylight hit, to the underside of the seafloor, which incorporates forays into seamounts (underwater mountains) and a whale fall (biodiverse habitats that type round whale carcasses).
Mimicking the habitat it celebrates, Into the Deep is kind of lightless, however by no means lifeless; every pinprick of sunshine that catches the attention signifies a brand new animal or habitat in want of exploration.
When MBARI researchers get well an organism that shall be placed on show for Into the Deep, aquarium workers should take their environmental situations under consideration as a result of sustaining deep-sea organisms in an aquarium atmosphere is a fragile job.
“The deep sea has a bunch of additional, extra excessive challenges [including] chilly water, stress, pH, and [low] oxygen,” mentioned Megan Olhasso, Curator of Fish & Invertebrates on the Aquarium.
By paying such shut consideration to their environmental situations, the exhibit is ready to showcase many distinctive animals. For instance, there are siphonophores, which might simply be mistaken for a sequence of translucent beads, and disintegrate when disturbed. Simply earlier than the whale fall, there’s a vibrant deep-sea coral reef. One of many ultimate stops on this descent is a chance to pet a large isopod. And, one of many first animals within the exhibit is the bloody-belly comb jelly; it’s the solely such show on the planet.
“These animals have principally by no means been seen earlier than in public, aside from possibly in Japan,” mentioned Beth Redmond-Jones, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Exhibitions. “There’s additionally a 180-degree encompass theatre piece of never-bef0re-seen footage of jellies bioluminescing.”
Whereas Into the Deep celebrates the range of life within the deep sea, it additionally nods to how people are impacting this seemingly distant atmosphere. Each a show and an interactive online game present how fragments of organic decay (”marine snow”) are indistinguishable from items of plastic — for each people and deep-sea animals.
Upon exiting the exhibit, there may be an atrium overlooking Monterey Bay with sea otters enjoying within the kelp forest cover simply past the window. On the horizon are the floor waters sitting above the canyon that the exhibit animals name dwelling. It’s at this level that the deep sea feels closest to humanity onshore.
“The deep sea isn’t devoid of life,” mentioned Conner, “Life survives and thrives there and survives below essentially the most excessive situations wherever. It’s not disconnected from the kelp forest or sea otters that we’re taking a look at.”