Cover image for Creatures of the deep : in search of the sea's monsters and the world they live in
Title:
Creatures of the deep : in search of the sea's monsters and the world they live in
Author:
Hoyt, Erich, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Second edition, updated and expanded.
Publication Information:
Richmond Hill, Ontario : Firefly Books Ltd., 2014.

©2014
Physical Description:
288 pages : colour illustrations ; 29 cm
Summary:
In this updated and expanded edition of Creatures of the Deep, award winning nature and science writer Erich Hoyt gives readers a glimpse of the amazing variety of creatures found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Weaving together details from the latest scientific research about sharks, giant squid, dragonfish, huge tube worms, clams and tiny microbes of the deep sea vents, Hoyt embarks on a magical journey roaming across the abyssal plains and descending into deep sea trenches more than 20,000 feet down. Hoyt unravels the complex predator-prey relationships, from "killer" copepods to battles between giant squid and sperm whales, presenting compelling portraits of animals that are superbly adapted denizens of a dark high pressure world. There are life forms, independent of sunlight and photosynthesis, which flourish around the hot, sulfurous deep sea vents in the magnificent rift valley of the mid ocean ridge, the world's longest mountain range. Surviving in conditions that appear to be close to the very soup of primordial Earth, these microbes have become the basis for the latest research into Earth's origins. Fully illustrated with fantastic underwater imagery.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781770852815
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

ASJA Writing Awards Recipient Outstanding Book 2002 General Nonfiction Erich Hoyt Creatures of the Deep

Praise for the first edition:

"More than a picture book ... Hoyt's elegant writing provides both the historical background for deep-sea exploration and an ecological perspective on life in the ocean's depths."
-- American Scientist

"A magnificent bestiary ... and a reminder of how little we actually know about the seas surrounding us."
-- Popular Science

Winner, Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year
-- American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc., New York

In this updated and expanded edition of Creatures of the Deep , award-winning nature and science writer Erich Hoyt gives readers a glimpse of the amazing variety of creatures found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Weaving together details from the latest scientific research about sharks, giant squid, dragonfish, huge tube worms, clams and tiny microbes of the deep-sea vents, Hoyt embarks on a magical journey roaming across the abyssal plains and descending into deep-sea trenches more than 20,000 feet down.

Hoyt unravels the complex predator-prey relationships, from "killer" copepods to battles between giant squid and sperm whales, presenting compelling portraits of animals that are superbly adapted denizens of a dark high-pressure world. There are life forms, independent of sunlight and photosynthesis, which flourish around the hot, sulfurous deep-sea vents in the magnificent rift valley of the mid-ocean ridge, the world's longest mountain range. Surviving in conditions that appear to be close to the very soup of primordial Earth, these microbes have become the basis for the latest research into Earth's origins. Fully illustrated with fantastic underwater imagery.


Author Notes

Erich Hoyt has spent much of his life on or beside the sea, working with whales and dolphins and marine conservation. A noted conservationist and scientist, he has written more than 20 books including the acclaimed Orca: The Whale Called Killer , The Earth Dwellers and Insect Lives plus several children's books including Weird Sea Creatures and Whale Rescue . He lives in Dorset, England.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Science and nature writer Erich Hoyt (Orca: The Whale Called Killer; The Earth Dwellers) combines dramatic photographs with extraordinary tales of undersea life in Creatures of the Deep: In Search of the Sea's "Monsters" and the World They Live In. No sea bass here: Hoyt prefers the creepier populations of bloody belly ctenophores, vampire squid, sea cucumbers and dragonfish. From the surface-dwelling manta ray to the marine spider of the hadal zone (appropriately named for Hades), Hoyt describes life cycles and family trees of marine flora and fauna, as well as the scientific community's efforts to understand them. Startling facts abound, and Hoyt's enthusiasm for his subject shows on every page. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice Review

This updated work (1st ed., 2001) has the external appearance of a beautiful coffee-table book, but internally it offers much more. It resembles two previous works, The Deep, edited by Clair Nouvian (CH, Aug'07, 44-6848), and Into the Deep, by Karsten Schneider and Peter Batson (2008), both primarily picture books with good photography. However, Hoyt's work offers a knowledgeable narrative to accompany the excellent illustrations. The author is a well-known British biologist who has published numerous books on marine life, including Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (CH, Feb'12, 49-3258). This one is organized into four parts covering life in the vertical layers and a history of oceanic exploration, predators and prey, life on undersea ridges, and the diversity of marine life and conservation considerations. Though there are no references within the text, the book does include a "Sources and Resources" section at the end. In addition to its visual appeal, this work has considerable academic value. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduates. --John C. Briggs, Oregon State University


Booklist Review

It was long believed that no creature, however "monstrous," could live in the dark, cold ocean deep, a realm that still resists exploration even in this age of sophisticated technologies. Marine expert and science writer Hoyt relates a brisk history of deep-sea research, beginning with Alexander the Great and his diving bell, noting that it wasn't until 1977 and the advent of the deep-sea submersible, Alvin, that scientists were able to descend far enough to discover the diverse population of fantastic organisms that thrive beneath the ocean's high pressure. As engagingly descriptive as he is instructive, Hoyt takes readers on an extensive tour through the underwater zones, introducing and elucidating the lives of the otherworldly denizens of each layer, many presented in breathtaking color photographs. He describes the unique attributes of sea cucumbers, squid, sharks (including the rare megamouth), and the ghoulish dragonfish, and explains such phenomena as bioluminescence and the communities clustered around deep-sea hydrothermal vents. All these marvels, and Hoyt still believes we haven't seen anything yet. Donna Seaman


Library Journal Review

A senior research associate with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the United Kingdom, Hoyt (The Earth Dwellers) here shares his enthusiasm for and knowledge about the extraordinary creatures of the deep sea. His style is both clear and picturesque, and his captions to the full-color photos are fact-packed. Part 1 of the book covers the layers of the sea, describing the animal life at each depth. Parts 2 and 3 discuss the fish and other marine creatures, as characterized by some of their unique features, such as bioluminescence, size, shape, or location in the sea. With light humor, Hoyt writes, for example, that "dinoflagellates [protozoan of the phyllum Pyrrophyta] can be more dangerous than sharks, but Hollywood has yet to cast dinoflagellates as a lethal killing machine, so they remain unexploited, doing their nasty business in relative obscurity." Other books in the same genre include two by Richard Ellis: Monsters of the Sea (LJ 11/1/94) and Deep Atlantic (LJ 10/1/96). But the work that compares most readily with Hoyt's is Jacques Cousteau: Whales (LJ 12/88) for its knowledgeable and accessible approach to marine life and high-quality photography. Hoyt's latest is recommended for all general collections. Mary Nickum, Lakewood, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Presenting select marine creatures from around the world, Hoyt also provides a tour of the multilayered organization of the seas from top to bottom. In the preface, he defines and describes the term "monster" and specifies life-forms designated by this label in the oceans. As the author goes on to describe the layer after layer of water, he features a monster or monsters from each stratum. Photographs of the animals help to dramatize the information and data. Hoyt explains words or terms that might be unclear and draws upon word history and meanings when needed. For "hadal zone," he gives the historical background of the term as well. In this manner, he clarifies and educates, and the information flow is never impeded. The general summary of the ocean's layers, specific views of the selected "monsters," and the perspective of the life and environment interaction combine to make this book a splendid overview. The photographs, sidebars, and unique life-forms presented offer opportune ways of catching the attention of reluctant readers.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Author's Note In 2001, when the first edition of Creatures of the Deep was published, I wrote that we were embarking on a great century of discovery in the deep ocean. That prediction is on course. In 2007, fishermen off New Zealand hauled to the surface the largest colossal squid ever seen by humans (though still never observed alive in its natural habitat). In 2010, researchers reported on the Census of Marine Life, a decade-long investigation into life in the oceans that described some 6,000 potential new species, mainly in the deep sea. Soon after that announcement, scientists raised the estimated number of oceanic species named and known to science from 220,000 to 240,000, an increase of 20,000 new species that make their homes in the sea. Thanks to an expedition that launched from Japan in June 2012, we were able to watch the first video of a living giant squid in the wild. Also in 2012, after a gap of 50 years, we shared the excitement of the second manned visit to the deepest spot in the ocean--Challenger Deep, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench--undertaken by filmmaker James Cameron. There's much, much more. For example, in 2006, on the North Icelandic Shelf near Grimsey Island on the Arctic Circle, researchers from Bangor University in Wales dredged up what they took to be 400-year-old specimens of the clam Arctica islandica . The age of one of the clams was subsequently determined to be 507 years, which was confirmed by carbon dating. The longest-lived noncolonial animal with an accurately determined life span, this clam was named Ming, a tribute to the fact that it had started life during the Chinese Ming Dynasty. While there is no way of knowing just how much longer Ming might have lived had the clam been left on the ocean floor, its discovery does lead us to wonder what secrets to a long and happy life are to be found in the cold waters north of Iceland. Around the deep-sea hydrothermal vents, researchers have discovered the scaly-foot snail--a gastropod with a hard-shell foot adapted to withstand hot conditions--and the furry abominable crab, also known as the Yeti crab. Found in the South Pacific Ocean in 2005, this crab has a fur coat, which seems strangely out of place for a creature living near a site where supercritical water (whose physical properties lie between those of a gas and a liquid) pours out from the hottest parts of the vents at temperatures up to 867 degrees F (464 degrees C). And there is not just one Yeti crab but several and perhaps many; different species appear to live at different hydrothermal vents. Yeti crabs have also been discovered at so-called cold vents, or cold methane seeps, where water transports dissolved elements from the seabed. Oregon State University's Andrew Thurber and his colleagues uncovered a notable new Yeti species, Kiwa puravida , during an Alvin submarine cruise off Costa Rica in 2006. A microbe specialist, Thurber studied how the new Yeti rhythmically swings its chelipeds, or claws (which are covered in dense setae and epibiotic bacteria), above the methane seep in what appears to be a form of symbiosis with the bacteria. These Yeti are thought to farm the bacteria, caring for them, nurturing them and perhaps consuming them, much like the ants that stand guard over subdued aphids, feeding from their sugary secretions and, as needed, eating the aphids. Many such "tiny fauna" stories reveal the lives of microbes--the bacteria, archaeans and other mostly single-cell organisms called protists--that live in symbioses with squid, jellyfish and zooplankton, providing a source of food as well as light for communication and more. Microbes are so hardy that they can live inside rocks that lie 1,900 feet (580 m) below the deep seafloor. Most estimates of biological diversity in the sea hover around one million species, but according to some biologists, 10 million species is not out of the question. Clearly, we are still at the beginning of the grand adventure that is the human effort to understand these species and their relationships with one another. But if every species has a story, then an ecosystem is like a multilayered epic novel, one that details the relationships between the novel's characters. As a setting, the ocean has the most extensive--and some of the richest--ecosystems on our planet. Ecosystem is one of those fuzzy words, overused and dimly understood. The Oxford Dictionary defines it simply as "a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment." For our purposes, this means all life in the sea, as well as the sea itself, including the seamounts and trenches, the midocean ridge and the nutrient matter floating through the deep. The ecosystem is the network of all the above and their interactions. The question is: Where does an ecosystem begin and end? Some conversations confine an ecosystem to a small space about the size of a room, a house or a neighborhood; other discussions consider the ocean ecosystem as one system; some, like scientist James Lovelock, regard Earth and its atmosphere as one ecosystem. What we're talking about here resides somewhere between these extremes. We might usefully consider an ecosystem from the point of view of an animal, its community of interacting organisms and its physical environment. In the case of a sea cucumber filtering matter from the ocean floor, this environment may be relatively small. But for a barnacle on a humpback whale that migrates about 5,000 miles (8,000 km) twice a year, it's clearly extensive. Yet even the sea cucumber inching along the seafloor depends on matter drifting down from a surface that may be seven miles (11 km) away. A killer whale's ecosystem may extend to prey that swims thousands of miles upriver, such as salmon. Of course, it's not just a matter of our being intrigued and delighted at the richness of this planet's ecosystems, although that would be enough. When I set out to write the first edition of this book, I was determined to unravel the stories about true and imagined monsters of the deep sea, even to rehabilitate the image of those monsters, if possible. Over time, the public's perception of some has, indeed, been transformed for the good, while others are perennially regarded as monsters, with or without justification. These creatures range in size from tiny microbes to giant squid. Some are conventionally ugly but harmless. Others are beautiful but dangerous. Yet without question, among these "monsters" are potential sources of medicine and examples of life strategies and genetic designs that may inspire future inventions, innovations and artistic creations. At the same time, humans continue to place incredible life-threatening challenges in the path of many ocean species, reducing and even eliminating populations through pollution, hunting, collisions at sea, fishing-gear entanglements, noise, indiscriminate overfishing and, more than anything else, injury and death through unintended catches by commercial fishermen. This so-called bycatch includes an annual tally of an estimated 300,000 whales and dolphins, millions of sharks and untold numbers of turtles, seals and fish. Thus we are in a race both to identify the problems and to solve them, even as we struggle to get a better idea of which species we may be threatening and even losing. Excerpted from Creatures of the Deep: In Search of the Sea's "Monsters" and the World They Live In by Erich Hoyt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.