The Deep exhibition

I visited The Deep exhibition at the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition was about the deep sea creatures who lived in places so deep that sunlight could not penetrate all the layers of waters. As they lived in total darkness all their lives, they had evolved to look quite strange and different from the fishes that we were used to.

I’ve always find them fascinating because they looked so different and so little was known about them. It’s like the last unexplored frontier on earth.

These are much smaller in real life

The endless frontier of the immediate future is not outer space but the vast space beneath the sea.

– Robert S Dietz

The exhibition was divided into several zones showing creatures that could be found at various depths. There were also dead specimens of the deep sea creatures, looking rather pale and leathery. But they were still fascinating to see and I am amazed that some creatures are actually pretty small in real life, quite different from the impression I had when viewing closed up photos of them.

Here are the descriptions from the free exhibit guide:

Twilight of the Ocean (150m – 600m)

Experience a world which is totally dark to the human eye, but where deep-sea animals are still able to detect light. It is a extremely dangerous zone, but one in which food is more abundant than further down, and inhabiting this treacherous region is therefore worth the risk.

Appearance of Colour (600m – 1000m)

Contrary to expectations, the deeper down you go into the oceans, the more the animal skin is pigmented with dark colours: brown, black and dark red. Red is the first wavelength to disappear in the water, so it acts as a black cape, which camouflages the animals from predators. The threshold of total darkness lies between 600 and 1000 metres below the surface, depending on the number of particles suspended in the water.

Dive into the Extreme (beneath 1000m)

Kreyer’s deep sea anglerfish

Below 1000 metres, it is impossible to detect the slightest photon originating from the sun. The residents of this water level are, for the most part, static creatures with slow metabolisms, which resort to tricks to find their meals, rather than force or speed.

The Abyssal Plain (bottom of the sea)

The ocean floor is the final receptacle of all food which filters down from through the water column. These particles form an organic carpet of which a great variety of creatures can take advantage of, but this carpet can by no means support large numbers of animals.

Besides the photos and dead specimens, there was also a short video showing life at such depths. There was also a handicraft corner for children to make their own sea creature.

Scaleless black dragonfish

It was a rare glimpse into a little-known world. It would be nicer to view to creatures while they were alive but I doubt I would travel to such depths so this was probably the closest I was going to get.I spent about 2 hours at the exhibition, slowly walking around and reading the labels. I enjoyed myself but perhaps this wasn’t for everyone. When I showed a friend the photos, she said, “Ew, they looked so ugly and scary, I’m surprised that you can still eat dinner afterwards.” The wonders were totally lost on her.


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