Feature

Five minutes in the deep ocean

G-Online

G spent some time in the deep with Dr. Nerida Wilson, who helped put together the Deep Oceans exhibition at the Australian Museum, to ask her what's so unique about our deep oceans.

Deep-sea-red-jellyfish

Deep sea Jellyfish.

Credit: Justin Marshall © Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institute

Phronima in a salp barrel.

Phronima in a salp barrel.

Credit: Justin Marshall © Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institute

Siphonophore

Siphonophore.

Credit: © Kevin Raskoff

Giant squid

Giant squid.

Credit: © Brian J Skerry/National Geographic Stock

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What is so awe-inspiring to you about our deep oceans?
"I think that it's just incredible we have explored so little in the deep ocean. There are so many possibilities to discover amazing new things! Most of what we have examined is water chemistry or geological samples, and for less than one per cent of the area. Even less is known about the biology of these remote places..."

What role do our oceans play for the environment we live in? What important functions does the sea perform for humans?
"The ocean has a huge impact on the world's climate. It affects where rain falls, and where heat moves around the planet. It also moves sediment around, as you can see when beaches appear and disappear over time."

You’ve looked at marine environments in the Antarctic – what climate change effects are happening or will happen there?
"We know that the sea temperature is rising, both at the surface, and in the deeper areas. And we know that the ice shelves are melting due to both this warmer water, and from warmer air above as well. It's much harder to understand what is happening to the marine organisms that live there because they are much harder to observe and measure."

What cool sea creatures have you found in the deep ocean?
"One of the coolest animals I saw in the very deep ocean was a giant anemone. Its tentacles stretched out to be about the same width as my arms. When you are used to seeing little ones about as big as your toe, one this size makes quite an impression!"

What cool sea creature would you like to find in the deep ocean?
"Oh, thats so hard to say! I guess I would have to say a glowing sea slug, since I have a great passion for sea slugs (nudibranchs). They are the animal that I study a lot of the time, and they are found in any ocean and from any depth."

Why should people get along to the Deep Oceans exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney, and later in the year at Questacon in Canberra?
"I think people will get a kick of this exhibit. Even I learned new things during the development of this exhibition! It was great how different scientists contributed their expertise and samples, and the result is a nice mix of history, technology, biology and the human touch."

Is there anything else that you want to add?
"The deep parts of the ocean are so out-of-sight, out-of-mind for most people. This is a great opportunity to learn more, and to understand what issues might threaten these intriguing places."

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The Deep Oceans exhibition is now showing at the Australian Museum in Sydney until 14 October, and will also be shown later in the year at Questacon in Canberra. For your chance to win one of five family passes to see this fantastic exhibition, click here.