Picture the scene: you’re aboard a cramped, miniature submarine which is descending to the ocean floor. Conditions inside this tiny pod are claustrophobic, and darkness descends as you sink further. Suddenly, though, you notice flickers of light all around you. It’s the bioluminescence from all the weird creatures that call this deep-sea environment home. It’s an awesome sight, but sadly you may be one of the last to experience the spectacle. That’s because many of these alien-looking animals are under threat – and humans are to blame.
It’s no exaggeration to describe this situation as a tragedy. After all, these creatures have evolved to withstand some of the toughest conditions imaginable. Down here, animals have to deal with intense pressure bearing down upon them – not to mention extreme temperatures and a lack of light. The notion that all these strengths might count for nothing because of our own species’ activities is difficult to comprehend.
Secrets of life
These deep-sea creatures should be marveled at for their own sake – given how strange they seem to us. But on top of everything else, the organisms may even hold the key to unlocking the secrets of how life itself began on our planet. Some experts apparently believe that life first sprang forth from hydrothermal vents at the depths of the ocean. So, if we destroy the creatures that live in these places now, then maybe we’ll lose our chance to learn about our very origins.
If things continue on their current trajectory, that grim scenario looks set to materialize – and it’s all down to us. For the first time in history, humans have developed the means to disrupt these previously hidden creatures and their ecosystems. And there are groups of people who seem totally intent on doing so.
Race against time
All is not quite lost yet, though. There are biologists out there trying to learn as much as they can about these wonderful creatures at the bottom of the ocean. In doing so, they’re bringing attention to these bizarre animals and garnering support for their protection. The race against time is clearly on.