February 14, 2011

A deep-sea valentine

The velvety red of a drifting jelly, the brick red of a vampire squid…many deep-sea creatures exhibit the colors of Valentine’s Day. When pursuing the prey object of their desire, deep-sea creatures may use red as camouflage. Wavelengths of light in the red end of the visible spectrum are preferentially absorbed by seawater, and therefore red colors appear black in the deep sea. Red animals disappear into the darkness, enabling them to ambush unsuspecting prey or avoid a hungry predator.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, MBARI video-lab staff put together this video of pink and red creatures from the deep sea.

List of animals featured in this video (in order of appearance):

  1. Midwater jelly – Pandea rubra
  2. Cock-eyed squid – Histioteuthis heteropsis
  3. Siphonophore – Resomia dunni
  4. Deep-sea jelly — Voragonema sp.
  5. Mysid shrimp
  6. Comb jelly – Beroe abyssicola
  7. Cydippid comb jelly – Aulacoctena sp.
  8. Bubblegum gorgonian (Paragorgia arborea) on Davidson Seamount
  9. Pandalopsis ampla
  10. North Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) and Redbanded rockfish (Sebastes semicinctus)
  11. Sea star — Family Pterasteridae
  12. Lithodid crab – Paralomis sp.
  13. New species of soft coral – Gersemia juliepackardae
  14. Flapjack octopus – Opisthoteuthis sp.
  15. Brisingid sea star and sea cucumber (Paelopatides confundens)
  16. Bone-devouring worms – Osedax rubiplumis
  17. Vampire squid – Vampyroteuthis infernalis

Note: The bright red lights you can see in some of the video clips (e.g., the sea star at 01:22) are lasers from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and are used to estimate sizes of objects on screen. The laser dots are about 29 cm (one foot) apart.

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org