The Blue Planet

Season 1 Episode 2

The Deep

Aired Unknown Sep 19, 2001 on Discovery Channel
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Episode Summary

A thousand meters down, in the twilight zone, most animals are transparent, hoping to pass unnoticed. Hatchet fish, for example, have flattened bodies and silvered sides that reflect any light and make them invisible. Below 1,000 meters is the dark zone. Predators here have massive teeth and enormous mouths as food comes along so rarely that they have to grab prey of any size. The hairy angler is the size of a beach ball and its body is covered in long antennae designed to pick out the movements of any prey foolish enough to venture close to its terrifying teeth. The fangtooth has the largest teeth in the ocean for its size - so big it can't close its mouth. Gulper eels can swallow prey as big as themselves. The animals themselves, through bioluminescence, produce the only light here. Shrimps and jellyfish use this to confuse their predators while angler fish use giant flashing lures on their heads to attract their prey. Female angler fish use their lures to hook a male. Just one-tenth the size of their partner, a male fuses itself on to the female's body, becoming little more than an attached bag of sperm. The continental slope, extending for thousands of miles, gradually descends to the abyssal plain at 3,000 meters. The abyssal plain covers more than half the Earth's surface. It's mostly flat, but in places the seabed drops down into massive trenches miles wide. The deepest of these and the deepest point in the ocean is the Marianas Trench, which drops to more than seven miles below sea level. Only five manned submarines in the world can reach the abyssal plain, so almost all of it is unexplored. In a few places, along volcanic ridge lines, animals survive off energy produced by hot vents. When scientists discovered the hot vents they were amazed that so much life could survive without energy from the sun. Since their original discovery in 1979, a new species has been described every 10 days.moreless

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