There are no places on Earth more foreign to humans than the depths of our oceans. The extreme pressure alone prohibits any normal vehicle from exploring their depths; but add to that the sheer enormity of space – almost 80% of the Earth’s livable environments by volume are below 1000m deep – coupled with complete darkness and we have only a small glimpse so far of what lies beneath.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to assist on a project led by Dr. Tracey Sutton who studied deep sea environments post-BP Deep Sea Horizon Spill, that also included a former employee Sarah Peake (now at GA Aquarium) and colleague Wendy Mooring. As a parting gesture Dr. Sutton donated some deep sea specimens to the collection here at the Virginia Living Museum. We temporarily use them during educational programs and seminars but to this point have not displayed them to the general public. Until now!
A porcupine crab on display
In another fortunate happenstance, Director of the Duke Marine Lab, deep sea explorer, former College of William and Mary professor, and long-time Alvin pilot Dr. Cindy Van Dover will be here at the VLM on November 15th to share some of her experiences and showcase her exhibit “Beyond the Edge of the Sea”. This traveling exhibit features deep sea life and scenes witnessed in person aboard the Alvin that are beautifully rendered in scientifically accurate water color by artist Karen Jacobsen. Portions of her artwork are shown below:
We took this opportunity to publicly display several of our deep sea specimens for the first time. Below are a few of the preserved animals that you can see here alongside the unique and beautiful artwork.