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Deep Atlantic: Life, Death, and Exploration…
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Deep Atlantic: Life, Death, and Exploration in the Abyss

by Richard Ellis

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731256,187 (3.38)1
Prior to John Ross's successful retrieval in 1818 of six pounds of worm-filled mud from the bottom of Baffin Bay, it was widely believed that no life could possibly flourish in the dark, cold, pressurized waters of the deep Atlantic Ocean. Subsequent expeditions - conducted on ships with trawls, in submersibles such as William Beebe's bathysphere and Jacques Cousteau's Deepstar, and by remote-controlled and robotic diving devices - have unveiled a mind-boggling menagerie, a riot of deep-sea fauna with which we are still only marginally acquainted. Even today, only a handful of people have seen the pillow lava, smoking chimneys, and shimmering water of the hydrothermal vent fields, which are colonized by blind white crabs, clams as big as footballs, and gigantic tube worms with vivid red gills. Only a lucky few explorers of the abyss have encountered Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the "vampire squid from hell," with its complex clusters of photophores that it can turn on and off at will. A mere smattering of marine biologists have witnessed the herds of pulsating sea cucumbers that feed contentedly in the sand and mud of the Atlantic floor. And the same is true for the amazing pelican eel, whose body consists almost entirely of toothless mouth, and for the four-inch-long male anglerfish that permanently attaches himself to the nearly four-foot-long female. In the strikingly illustrated Deep Atlantic, Richard Ellis brings us face-to-face with these unexpected efflorescences of evolution - fish, mammals, and members of other phyla that have been able to assume incredible shapes and great size thanks to the gravity-canceling buoyancy of water. The animals discussed and pictured herein are adapted for life in the predominant environment on our planet, since 70 percent of its surface is underwater and 90 percent of that water is more than a mile deep. Yet it is an environment as foreign to us as another universe. As we have come to expect from his previous books, Richard Ellis is here again our engrossing guide to the last frontier on earth.… (more)

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Ellis's fascinating history of the Atlantic sea floor is enhanced immeasurably by his fantastic and creepy white-on-black illustrations of the phantasmagorical denizens of the deep. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
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