Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Discovery Lecture Series
presented by AltaSea and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Friday, December 5, 2014
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Universe Below: Explorations of Life in the Deep Sea
By Dr. Shana Goffredi, Occidental College

Covering over 70 percent of the surface of the Earth and averaging two miles in depth, the deep-sea is by far the planet's largest habitat. It is an alien world, most of it still unexplored, and current estimates suggest that up to 10 million species are yet to be discovered.

For most of human history, we have largely looked up. The time is now to turn our attention to this unexplored, and vast, world here on Earth. Some of the most important discoveries surely lie beneath what covers most of our planet, unimaginably cold and cloaked in darkness. Sections of the deep seafloor that have been explored have revealed entirely new ecosystems, including underwater volcanoes, methane ice fields, and the remains of decomposing whales, to name a few.

We explore this watery world with manned and robotic submersibles, pioneered in the late 1920ís and made more robust within the past few decades. Strange new species from some of these habitats will be discussed, along with their intimate relationship with beneficial bacteria that enable their success in these habitats. These animal-bacterial symbioses, many which are nutritional in nature, play critical roles in sustaining the high productivity in these unusual deep-sea marine environments.

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