January 29, 2016
Come visit the Wonders of the Deep gallery and its exhibits highlighting the animals and phenomena of the deep ocean before it closes on February 16. Located in the changing gallery space near the Aquarium’s member entrance, this gallery will close to prepare for the installation of a new exhibition. Wonders of the Deep originally opened in May 2013 as part of the Aquarium’s Ocean Exploration exhibits and programs.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors experience the darkness of the deep ocean, punctuated by the brilliant and unusual beauty of the marine life found beyond the reach of sunlight. Wonders of the Deep is one of the first exhibits at an aquarium in the United States to recreate these deep-sea habitats. Animals from this environment survive in extremes of temperature and pressure. For this reason, most of them cannot be displayed in aquariums.
Wonders of the Deep includes both live animals and models and images to stand in for those animals that cannot be displayed. The gallery includes a recreation of a hydrothermal vent, where life forms thrive in the intense heat and dynamic environment of this undersea ecosystem. Video imagery projected behind the display shows footage of a real hydrothermal vent, allowing visitors to see what these tectonically active habitats look like in the deep ocean. Visitors can also view a life-sized model of a pygmy sperm whale carcass and the island of life that survives for decades on the decaying carcass of a dead whale once it sinks to the seafloor, known as a whale fall. Deep-sea crabs, urchins, brittle stars, and other scavengers are exhibited with the 9-foot-long whale model.
Visitors can also learn about bioluminescence, a phenomenon manifested in about 95 percent of deep-sea animals, at an exhibit featuring flashlight fish. This exhibit inspired teen volunteer Caroline Edmonds to conduct a school science project investigating flashlight fish behavior. The project was selected for the Broadcom MASTERS competition, and Edmonds was one of thirty finalists to win a trip to Washington, D.C. and meet President Obama.
A 3-D microscope housed in this gallery allows visitors to view live plankton on a 3-D flatscreen using special glasses. Aquarium staff members collect plankton in nearby Rainbow Harbor each day to display at this station.
Gelatinous animals like sea jellies also populate the deep sea. The Wonders of the Deep gallery includes a jelly touch lab, where visitors can to touch moon jellies and learn more about gelatinous animals.