The Hadal Deep and Fonzie

Amberjacks at night make me think of sea monsters

If you were around me longer than three days you’d discover my (somewhat concerning) love for the movie Finding Nemo.  There are endless reasons why I think the film is fabulous, from the overarching themes and ideas it presents to the incredible detail the artists gave the ocean realm.  Plus, it gives me a ready door to access in people’s minds when I want to talk about fish, coral, reefs, the ocean, and other places. 

The long term (slightly insane) effect of owning and watching Nemo countless times is that some scenes have scored themselves into my brain.  Probably permanently.  One scene in particular would not leave my mind today while I took a marine bio exam.  Nemo’s school (ha!) teacher in the film is a spotted eagle ray that teaches his charges by singing to them.  Its a powerful mnemonic trick for learning, or in this case, haunting.  On the zones of the open sea:

“There’s epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abyssopelagic, all the rest are too deep for you and me to see!”

If you’re wondering what’s beneath abyssopelagic that would be the hadal zone.  Anything over 6,000 meters qualifies.  Including the deepest (known) part of the ocean.. the Marianas Trench at 11,000 meters.. about a seven mile plunge into the abyss. 

Of all the zones of the big blue, it is the enigmatic inky deep that still holds its secrets closely.  We know more about the topography on the surface of venus than we do about Earth’s largest known habitat.  I happen to love Deep-Sea News for keeping up on hadal science. 

In fact, this amazing TED conference talk nicely illustrates the incredible adaptations of deep ocean creatures using bioluminescence.  David Gallo also shows a few amazing clips of octopi demonstrating their camouflage brilliance.

Fonzie, a giant pacific octopus

I’ve had a soft spot for cephalopods since 2001 when I met Fonzie (yep that’s her in the basket) at the National Aquarium as an intern.  While I wasn’t a huge fan of freezing my arms in 50F water to clean her tank and feed her she was too charming too resist. 

An octopus, charming?  Absolutely.  You can’t watch them unscrew peanut butters jars to retrieve peices of capelin without falling in love.  Trust me. 

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3 Comments to “The Hadal Deep and Fonzie”

  1. Definitely charming. I kept a small octopus in my Marine Science classroom for a while. It lived in an empty scallop shell and was the classroom favorite until it went for a walkabout one night and we never found it.

    I use Nemo in my class, it’s loaded with good stuff.

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  3. I have always wanted to keep an octopus but their dazzlingly short lifespans make it impossible for me. I’d be far too attached to the little things. As it is octopi like Fonzie are lucky to live over two years in a normal lifespan. The other octopus on display at the time – Ophelia – was already in decline when I came on board as she’d already laid her eggs. They are amazing creatures though.. tonmo.com always has excellent information on them. 🙂 Maybe one day I’ll crumble and keep a small Caribbean species.