Sea Monsters – Legit or Quit?

Starting out is always the hardest part, I feel.  I say this not as a deep and meaningful reflection on life and its many obstacles, but because upon starting this piece, my first for Varsity View, I literally had no idea what to write about.

I so found myself just surfing the web looking for something of interest.  For a while I was all at sea… figuratively this time.  I wasn’t on a pirate ship or anything.  Calm down there.  But I was pretty sure I had bloggers block at this stage. Did I just coin that? It doesn’t seem likely…

And then, quite suddenly, I came across something interesting!

Okay yes, I admit, it was on Facebook.  And it wasn’t pictures of that pretty friend-of-a-friend you have who you secretly wish you knew better.  Not this time anyway.  It was in fact a link reading the following:  “Massive Unidentified Sea Monster caught on Oil-Rig Cam.”

Well that sounds awesome!  Am I right? I was immediately intrigued and so watched the video with keen interest.   I would like to point out here that I’m not the type of person who would blindly just accept any nonsense found on the internet.  999,999th visitor? Bitch please.  Neither will you find me reading horoscopes or consulting fortune-tellers.  Even the Easter Bunny seems just a little bit suspicious.  A rabbit that lays eggs? COME ON!

The age we live in has seen many a myth and legend crumble.  And not just because of MythBusters (which I’ve never enjoyed really).  Only the workings of Photoshop and perhaps the vaguest of video content continues to fuel those in denial.  “There are no ancient aliens and Nessie isn’t real, bro.” Despite my skepticism, I still have an intense desire for their one day to be a legitimate and unprecedented discovery.  Something real, something cool, something big.

The fact remains that very little is actually known about the deep and darkest depths of the ocean.  The ocean remains largely unexplored and mysterious.  In fact, National Geographic reports that as much as 91% of the ocean’s species remain undiscovered.  Exactly how they formed this estimate is unclear, but is it possible that some ancient monster-like creatures may yet lie undiscovered in the darkness?

Deep sea exploration faces difficulties however. Wikipedia tells me the pressure increases by roughly 1 atmosphere for every 10 meters descended.  Given that some of the deepest regions in the ocean approach 11 kilometers in depth – that is a lot of pressure!  Furthermore, no natural light is capable of penetrating this deep.  Therefore, submersibles or remote explorers are restricted by the capacity of their own light source.  Perhaps the greatest difficulty facing deep sea exploration, however, is the lack of funding.  Space exploration is definitely the popular choice just now, with NASA’s exploration budget touching $3.8 billion. Meanwhile, the budget for ocean exploration is a comparatively paltry $23.7 million.

So it turns out the creature identified in the aforementioned video is a rare species of jellyfish called the scyphomedusa deepstaria; whose apparent lack of tentacles and general bag-like appearance have made it a bit of a fixture.  Its obscure form is an adaption for effective hunting as well as surviving the extreme pressure of the deep sea.  It may seem underwhelming in the end that the ‘monster’ was merely a jellyfish – unremarkable, undaunting.  But perhaps it is so for all things.  Only when we understand them do they truly become mundane.  I for one still think the deepstaria fascinating.

Henry Fagan
About Henry Fagan
Henry feels discussing himself in the 3rd person is pretty strange, am I right? He is kind of in a prolonged phase of identity crisis – or at least he has no idea what he’ll end up doing in life. At the moment, he feels it may somehow involve writing. Henry is presently a humanities student and will be studying 3rd year psychology in 2014. He considers himself quite a well-rounded person and likes to think of himself as possessing a fair degree of wit and knowledge. He so spends much energy attempting to be humorous – with mixed results. Henry also enjoys social activities, media, playing and watching various sports, as well as immersing himself in strategic games.
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