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Creatures From The Deep

Creatures From The Deep

Biologist Sonke Johnsen collects photos of strange ocean creatures.

January 24, 2012 |
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Duke biologist Sonke Johnsen studies the role of vision and light in the lives of animals, particularly those living in the deep sea, beyond the reach of sunlight. On research cruises at sea, Johnsen captures photos of the strange and wonderful creatures he encounters, some of which are presented in this slideshow. 

When there's nothing to hide behind in the water column, sea creatures use a variety of strategies to survive in their eat-or-be-eaten world, including transparency, fast-changing camouflage, and artificial lights. Johnsen says nature's weird and wonderful  diversity never fails to make him smile, and he thinks it all comes back to light.

"Essentially indefinable, (light) is the ultimate food for our planet's life and allows us to perceive the world in nearly magical detail and diversity," Johnsen writes in the introduction to his new text, "The Optics of Life, A biologist's guide to light in nature," (Princeton University Press).  "Via warmth, vision, and photosynthesis, and its darker aspects such as radiation damage, light interacts fundamentally with nearly all forms of life. Only certain subterranean species may be free from its influence."

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