Here at Goliath we recently explored mind-bending facts about outer space, but it is not just space which is vast, wild, fascinating and unexplored. On Earth we have the ocean, which takes up a gigantic percentage of our planet, but it is still relatively unexplored, leaving all kinds of intriguing mysteries below. The deep sea in particular is a strange place, and here there are bizarre creatures which do not look like they come from this world at all. Man has always had a fascination with the ocean, and these eight facts are sure to add to its mystique.
8. Rogue Waves Really Exist
Rogue waves are often dismissed as a myth, but they do in fact exist and are a threat to large ships and ocean liners. A rogue wave can be described as a wave which has a height that is more than twice that of prevailing conditions, and they seem to appear without warning out in the middle of the ocean. There is some mystery surrounding them as they do not seem to have a single distinct cause, but high winds and strong currents are a contributing factor. The largest scientifically measured rogue wave was recorded back in February 2000 by the RRS Discovery, with waves measuring up to an astonishing 29.1 meters (95ft). It is believed that these rogue waves have been responsible for the loss of a few low flying aircrafts, including U.S. Coast Guard helicopters that were on Search and Rescue missions.
7. The Giant Squid Was Not Photographed Until 2002
There are dozens of myths of gigantic and terrifying sea monsters dwelling within the ocean, but we know for a fact that the Giant Squid is very much real. The Kraken is a legendary sea monster, but this may well have stemmed from sightings of the Giant Squid, which are estimated to grow to a maximum size of 13 meters (43 feet). It had managed to evade being photographed until 2002, which added to its mystery. Marine biologist Richard Ellis described it as “the most elusive image in natural history.” It was not photographed in the wild until 2004, and in 2012 the first ever footage was taken of the creature in its natural habitat. This brilliant footage fascinated scientists and the public around the world, yet it is still a largely mysterious beast and its foreign appearance makes it a feared and legendary creature.
6. Many Deep-Sea Fish Live 30+ Years
Your average goldfish will live for just a few years, but the fish that are lurking in the depths of the ocean will often live for 30+ years (although you probably wouldn’t want to keep them as a pet). They tend to be slow growing, late maturing and low in reproductive capacity, but this also makes them particularly vulnerable to extinction. The orange roughy, a large deep-sea fish belonging to the slimehead family, can live up to a whopping 150 years. They also have very low resilience, and this makes them susceptible to overfishing. It is also surprising that the fish found in these areas are able to live so long due to the fact that food is difficult to come by, with most fish having to rely on organic matter sinking from higher levels, or sometimes hydrothermal vents.
5. Roughly 98% of the Ocean’s Species Live In, or Just Above, the Ocean Floor
When you think of the ocean, typically you will think of brightly colored fish, sharks and other species swimming around. This is just a tiny percentage of the ocean’s species, however, as a staggering 98% of them live near the ocean floor. In shallow water, light can still reach the ocean floor and therefore plants, coral and other marine animals are able to exist. In deep water, however, survival is more challenging as light does not reach this area. This means that it is dark, extremely cold and pressure is immensely high. You do still find species on the deep ocean floor though, and these are typically highly specialized deposit feeders which ingest sediment and convert the organic material into energy. Microbes within the crust are able to survive through chemosynthesis (chemical conversion of minerals into energy).
4. Deep Sea Creatures Are Highly Specialized
Below the beautiful blue waters where you find all kinds of stunning fish (called the mesopelagic zone), you find another world which is much more alien-like. Sunlight is unable to penetrate the depths of the ocean, making it a dark and cold environment (abyssopelagic and bathypelagic).This does not stop life, however, as in these depths you find some truly bizarre looking creatures. Many of these creatures are blind or have gigantic eyes so that they can capture the faintest of glimmers. Additionally, many species emit their own light through a process known as bioluminescence (this is typically used to attract mates or prey). Footage of this can be stunning to see and adds to the mystique of the deep sea. It is a completely different world down at the depths of the ocean, and a fascinating, wild and intriguing place to think about.
3. The Biggest Mountain Range in the World Is Under Water
When you think about the world’s mountain ranges, the first ones that spring to mind are typically the Rocky Mountains, the Andes, the Himalayas and the Alps. These are all stunning and gigantic ranges, but none of them are the longest mountain ranges on the planet. Instead, you will find this underwater. It is the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, which is a jaw dropping 40,389 km long (for comparison, the Andes are 7,000 km). It comprises a whopping 23% of the Earth’s surface, and has peaks higher than those in the Alps (sections of it extend above sea level). This range runs through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and into both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Divers were not sent down to explore the ridge until 1973, which was four years after Neil Armstrong first took a step on the moon.
2. Mount Everest Is Over a Mile Shorter Than the Challenger Deep
The deepest known point on the planet is known as the Challenger Deep, which is located in the intriguing Mariana Trench located in the Western Pacific Ocean. The Challenger Deep is nearly 11 km (7 miles) deep; for comparison, Mount Everest (the highest point on the Earth’s surface) is 5.49 miles high. People go to Mount Everest to try and reach the top and conquer it (a seriously impressive feat), but it is fascinating to think that as high as it is, there is somewhere that is considerably deeper in the ocean. The pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch, but James Cameron was able to go on a solo manned descent in his Deepsea Challenger which took 2 hours and 36 minutes to reach the bottom, where he then spent 2 hours and 34 minutes exploring the ultimate depths.
1. We Have Explored Less Than 5% of the Earth’s Oceans
We have only dipped our toe in the ocean when it comes to exploration, which is a shocking and unsettling thought. We have made tremendous discoveries about our moon and neighboring planet (and even have a Rover discovering new things every day), but we have only explored a tiny amount of our own planet. The oceans take up a whopping 70% of the Earth’s surface, but we have explored less than 5% of them. What we have discovered has been unpredictable, strange and entirely fascinating, and the oceans can also help us to look back in time and figure out more about our planet. It is a very difficult and sometimes dangerous place to explore however, but with new technological advances it makes the future look hopeful and very interesting. Canadian filmmaker James Cameron is a good example with his 2012 Deepsea Challenger expedition.