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Episode 503: Creatures of the Deep

In the cold, deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, little-known animals spend their entire lives in near darkness, far removed from our human world. Until now, little research has been conducted on these creatures of the deep, keeping much of their lives a mystery.

Then, in April of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, setting off the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Roughly 4.9 million barrels of crude oil gushed out of the well at a depth of five thousand feet. In the disaster’s aftermath, many questions arose about what lives in the deep waters of the Gulf, and how these animals may have been impacted by the oil. To answer these questions, scientists from the Deep-C Consortium’s ecology team conduct regular research trips in the area.


Meet the experts featured in this episode.

Special Thanks:


Howard Johnson Inn Ocala
3951 NW Blitchton Road
Ocala, Florida
(352) 629-7021

Image Credits

Changing Seas would like to thank the following individuals and institutions who kindly allowed their footage, images and other media to be used in this production:

ABCNEWS VideoSource

Seattle Aquarium

Savannah State University
Chip Cotton

Florida State University

Dean Grubbs

Ian MacDonald

Jeff Chanton

Meredith Field

Nico Wienders

NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Department of Commerce

United States Air Force

United States Coast Guard

United States Navy

Special Thanks:

R/V Weatherbird II Crew

Tracy Ippolito

Web Extras

Fish Identification

To properly identify rarely seen species of deep sea fish, scientists consult the literature and examine animals closely.

Deep Sea Snack

Dr. Chip Cotton from Florida State University reconstructs a fish that was found in the stomach of a shark they captured during a deep sea research expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hagfish Show and Tell

Dr. Chip Cotton conducts a "Show and Tell" with a deep sea hagfish caught during a research expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under Pressure - The Effects of Depth on Styrofoam

Have you ever wondered about the force of pressure in the deep sea? Here scientists are having some fun while conducting otherwise serious research at sea.

Hagfish Dissection

On an expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, Dr. Dean Grubbs from Florida State University dissects a deep sea hagfish.

Gulper Shark Reproduction

Little is known about the life history of deep sea sharks. Dr. Chip Cotton dissects gulper sharks to better understand their reproductive biology. Scientists from FSU's Coastal and Marine Lab study the animals to see if they may have been impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Deep Sea Fishes in The Gulf of Mexico

There are a variety of deep sea sharks and other fishes that occur in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Scientists from FSU's Coastal and Marine Lab study the animals to see if they may have been impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Funding for this episode of Changing Seas was provided by: