Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 20 Issue 04

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Volume 20, No. 4
Pages 46 - 51

Sly Eye for the Shy Guy: Peering into the Depths with New Sensors

Edith A. Widder
First Paragraph

It is an oft-stated statistic that 95% of the ocean is unexplored, but this number does not expose the full extent of our ignorance about the largest ecosystem on the planet—first because it refers to the ocean floor, not the almost unimaginably vast volume of water above it, and second because limited tools have been used to probe what little of the ocean has been explored. For centuries, nets were the primary means of exploration, but these move slowly compared to the swimming speeds of large, agile predators, and they destroy delicate fauna such as gelatinous zooplankton. Exploration with submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) has opened new vistas, revealing the remarkable abundance and incredible adaptations of previously unknown fragile fauna, as well as equally diverse and fragile benthic communities associated with hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps (Fisher et al., this issue), and deep-water corals (Baco et al., this issue; Ross et al., this issue). However, such platforms use loud thrusters and bright white lights that are disruptive to organisms adapted to life in the dim, peaceful depths.


Widder, E.A. 2007. Sly eye for the shy guy: Peering into the depths with new sensors. Oceanography 20(4):46–51, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2007.04.