Christian Long

David Gallo: Underwater Admonishments

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Reflection by RACHEL M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

David Gallow:  Underwater Admonishments

“We only are only familiar with 3 % of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface…And where we assumed there was no life, there is more density and diversity than the tropical rain-forests… which proves we don’t know much about this planet at all.”

Fascinating, maybe even a slap in the face to some, but never-the-less truth. We don’t know as much about this planet as we had thought. What? There are creatures at the bottom of the ocean, miles down? They glow? Yes, more than we could know.

In this utterly interesting video, David Gallo marvels at the unknown myriad of creatures contained in the vast depths of the ocean, and rightfully so. The ocean is undoubtedly a monster force to be reckoned with, covering roughly 75 percent of the Earth and containing creatures beyond imagination.

If you’ve watched this video you’ve seen the incredible adaptations displayed by the glowing denizens of the deep as well as the covert action of highly adapted cephalopods (otherwise known as squids, octopi, and cuttle fish). It’s difficult not to marvel.

The bio-luminescent creatures seen in the video are not only able to withstand unbearable pressure at approximately 4,000 ft. below the surface of the ocean, but (due to these circumstance) posses the distinguishing ability to synthesize light within their cells.

In more shallow waters where the aquatic terrain is more diverse, octopi and squid flourish using the art of camouflage. Utilizing special pigment cells called chromatophores, they can change color, texture, and create changing patterns to either blend in completely or make a flamboyant display.

In either creature’s case, it seems that the need to survive has driven them to adapt in extremely diverse ways to meet extremely diverse needs. For example, life can even exist 35,797 feet below the surface of the ocean. This is extreme considering “the temperature of the water is just above freezing, and the pressure is an incredible eight tons per square inch. [To put things in perspective,] that is approximately the weight exerted by 48 Boeing 747 jets. [But, despite the forbidding] pressure and temperature, life can still be found [there]” (http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/ocean-layers.html). Knowing this, it is easy to conclude the adaptations of these life forms are nothing less than incredible when there are 8 tons of pressure on them and they can still glow.

Speaking generally, this video is flat-out intriguing. At first glance, it didn’t seem like there were many deep implications to be found, only the presentation of fact for pure fascination. But, I feel like the amazing environmental acclimation and ingenuity of these creatures should be inspiring to many. These creatures don’t just survive, they thrive when it matters, when being excellent at what you were evolved to do is the difference between living and being lunch.

So, what does that mean for us? What does it mean when 97% of the world’s ocean’s are just waiting to be explored? Be active, question the world, and adapt. Or simply be like an octopus or a deep sea lantern fish, do what you can… and do it well.

And I know human cells can’t produce their own light or change at rapid-fire pace to match their surroundings, but if we work with what we CAN do and our ingenuity, we are allowed into a realm of possibilities some might consider more vast than the ocean.

If you’d like to hear more from David Gallo, see David Gallo: Life in the Deep Oceans.

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