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The ocean is fascinatingly difficult

We’ve barely started

Land is so old-school. We’ve pretty much been everywhere. We’ve probed the mouth of the Amazon. We’ve scaled the highest peaks. And, we’ve managed to stuff up a lot of it with human development. Land is vast, but the oceans are far more mammoth. 97% of all water on Earth is salt water and the Earth’s surface is 71% water, which gives us…..oh come work it out.

Needless to say, the oceans are vast.

You might think that you’ve been there, done that, and gotten the marine t-shirt, but you haven’t. When we think of the ocean, we often bring to mind the gently lapping waves as people walk along the beach. You might see a few little tiddlers (tiny fish), but the beach doesn’t show you very much at all. The closest you often come to the depths of the ocean is when you have to leap over a jellyfish that’s been washed up on the beach! Don’t get stung! The ocean is huge. It’s also extreme. You may not feel it when you’re paddling near the surface, but if you dip under the water and swim down, you’ll start to feel the weight of the ocean pressing down on you. At 10 metres, your muscles will struggle to work. If you keep going, to 30 metres, your lungs won’t expand. If you keep going down in search of Atlantis, you’ll pop like a watermelon. Ouch! Even military submarines, composed of the hardest metals that humans can use, pop beyond 500 metres.

So, rest assured, it’s an insanely difficult place to explore.

But here comes the truly insane thing. Something like this prawn/shrimp can do it easily. You know, that little sea insect that we love to unwrap and pop into our mouths at dinner time. It’s an engineering marvel. It can do what we can’t. It thrives in the deepest depths of the oceans.

Even a humble prawn has massive adaptations, but it’s not what you might expect. It has an exoskeleton, like most other delicious bugs, but the deeper you go, the softer this exo-skeleton becomes. The air pressure pops a human like a balloon because our bodies are hard and brittle, like most bones. A deep-sea shrimp is closer to a sponge. It bends and moves without popping like a piece of elastic. It’s similar to how buildings bend during earthquakes. If they don’t, they’ll collapse.

These are all adaptations and they’ve evolved over millions of years. You have them, too, but compared to marine organisms, ours are a little bit rubbish! Nevertheless, what’s your most important evolutionary adaptation:

In many ways, all we can do is marvel at some of the creatures discovered in the deep oceans. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the more extreme adaptations.

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