Thursday, 8 December 2016

Deep Sea Creatures - there's a disco going on down there.

I have always loved the sea. I should qualify that statement.  I have always loved sitting on the shore, watching the sea.  I do like to swim in the sea but I am only tiny and not a strong swimmer, so I stay within standing depth.  I don't enjoy water sports but I love to swim in the sea, on a calm day, off the side of a boat.  I admire people who scuba and snorkel but it is not for me. Although I am fascinated by what is down there, for the most part , I would rather be introduced via a television screen.

I swan with dolphins in Copa Bodega Bay, Florida and I have stroked the shells of wild turtles in the Aegean but deep water is a scary place best left to the professionals. Jacques Cousteau, the legendary deep sea diver and film-maker was born in 1910 and died in 1997.  It was through his eyes and pioneering work to develop diving equipment that I began my own journey to the bottom of the sea.  He opened up an alien world, never seen before and took the first dives that started a hundred years of discovery.  While Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were taking their first steps on the moon, Cousteau was crossing the frontier of earth's inner space and his adventures introduced us to life forms and phenomenon beyond the imagination of H.G. Wells.



We owe Cousteau a debt of gratitude. He campaigned long and hard to protect our great reefs, to reduce whaling and to prevent underwater storage of nuclear waste. His well documented journeys filled our Sunday night screen and like him, many of us fell in love with the sea.

I love to read about new natural science discoveries and two years ago, won an annual subscription to National Geographic magazine. This year I was given a subscription as a truly thoughtful birthday gift. It drops through my letter box every month as a gift that keeps on giving. I lap up every article, every incredible new gem of information and every startlingly beautiful underwater photographs.  It has been known for many decades that many marine species are bioluminescent, usually emitting a blue or green light as part of a chemical process. The phosphorescent glow attracts prey via a lure or perhaps a mate. 

In 2014, two U.S marine biologists Gruber and Sparks, photographed marine creatures that display a different kind of colour change.  They are bio-florescent under Ultra Violet light and many glow in the dark, displaying colours on the infra red part of the spectrum. Without the presence of UV light - we, as human explorers of our own planet, have been blind to these wonderful illuminations.  It seems there has been an underwater party going on that we are only just beginning to uncover.  I may have to learn to scuba dive after all.  It's going to be the event of the century.




 
Shine a light

It’s dark down here
In the depths of despair,
I keep losing my way.
Is there anyone there?

I know it’s the season
for me to be jolly,
But my lights have gone out
and I haven’t much lolly.  

Can somebody help me?
Just switch on the light
To show that you care
And perhaps then I might –

Glow with a smile
as I welcome each day
and bio- fluoresce
In a rainbow display.


 
 
Have a great week.  Thanks for reading.  Adele 
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