Like a Dr. Seuss book: “Outlandish” creatures found living deep in the ocean

At 1.7 miles down (2,750 meters) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, scientists found this transparent sea cucumber, Enypniastes.

Sylvan Dell is no stranger to odd sea creatures. In fact, we’ve featured them in several of our titles. Most recently, we visited the deep, dark sea in Jennifer Kramer’s Ocean Hide and Seek, as she (and illustrator Gary Phillips) took us on an adventure into the depths to seek out hidden creatures that call the ocean home. Well, Fox News has latched onto these mysterious, outlandish critters, too. Check out the breaking news and some amazing photos, released today!

From Fox News:
The creatures living in the depths of the ocean are as weird and outlandish as the creations in a Dr. Seuss book: tentacled transparent sea cucumbers, primitive “dumbos” that flap ear-like fins, and tubeworms that feed on oil deposits.

A report released Sunday recorded 17,650 species living below 656 feet, the point where sunlight ceases. The findings were the latest update on a 10-year census of marine life.

“Parts of the deep sea that we assumed were homogenous are actually quite complex,” said Robert S. Carney, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University and a lead researcher on the deep seas.

Thousands of marine species eke out an existence in the ocean’s pitch-black depths by feeding on the snowlike decaying matter that cascades down — even sunken whale bones. Oil and methane also are an energy source for the bottom-dwellers, the report said.

What might look like ancient gold treasure is a magnified crustacean, a tiny copepod.

The researchers have found about 5,600 new species on top of the 230,000 known. They hope to add several thousand more by October 2010, when the census will be done.

The scientists say they could announce that a million or more species remain unknown. On land, biologists have catalogued about 1.5 million plants and animals.

They say they’ve found 5,722 species living in the extreme ocean depths, waters deeper than 3,280 feet.

“The deep sea was considered a desert until not so long ago; it’s quite amazing to have documented close to 20,000 forms of life in a zone that was thought to be barren,” said Jesse Ausubel with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a sponsor of the census. “The deep sea is the least explored environment on earth.”

For the article in its entirety, visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576265,00.html. For more about Ocean Hide and Seek, visit the book homepage: http://sylvandellpublishing.com/Hide.php. Deep sea critters are cool!

by Jennifer Kramer, ill. by Gary Phillips

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