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Beyond the Reach of Sunlight

Wonders of the Deep

Immerse yourself in our special exhibit, Wonders of the Deep.

Flashlight fish
Flashlight fish | © Doug Perrine/SeaPics.com
Imagine a world in total darkness, a mysterious place where few humans have ever traveled. The deep ocean is one of the last places on our planet that is largely unexplored. Our special exhibit Wonders of the Deep sets the scene with unusual animals, vivid wall projections, sound, lighting, and interactive computer displays.

The exhibit features a recreation of a hydrothermal vent—an underwater volcano at the seafloor where life forms thrive in intense heat and toxic chemicals. The food webs of hydrothermal vents are independent of sunlight and upon their discovery in 1977 shattered the previously held theory that all life on Earth requires photosynthesis.

Also see a life-sized model of a whale fall—the island of life that survives for decades on the decaying carcass of a dead whale once it sinks to the seafloor. Hagfish, deep-sea crabs, urchins, brittle stars, and other scavengers will be exhibited with a model of a nine-foot-long pygmy sperm whale.

In an exhibit displaying chambered nautiluses, you will learn how these animals and other residents of the deep sea make daily vertical migrations from the depths of the ocean to the surface in order to feed and reproduce.

Learn about bioluminescence, a phenomenon manifested in about 95 percent of deep sea animals, at an exhibit featuring flashlight fish. And a jelly touch lab allows you to touch moon jellies and learn more about gelatinous animals that populate the deep sea.