Photo: Enric Sala

Submarine giant kelp forests thrive at the ends of the Earth

Essay by Cheryl Lyn Dybas

It’s a land beyond which there is nothing: the literal ends of the Earth. Or so it would seem. The forbidding headlands of Tierra del Fuego are a dare in the face of never-ending rainstorms, slashing waves and winds that howl up to 140 kilometres an hour. Ultimately, the bluffs lose, ceding ground each year to fierce surrounding seas. This archipelago shared by Chile and Argentina at the tip of South America is far from lifeless, however. Here where the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean meet those of the Atlantic and the Southern Oceans, untouched submarine forests thrive.

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By Sheree Marris (with photographs by Rob Peatling)  – Science, Art and Artificial Intelligence for conservation  

Dragons have captivated people’s imaginations for centuries. Featuring in movies, fantasy novels and folklore of many cultures around the world. Surprisingly there is some truth behind the ‘dragon tales’ although their form and function is less terrifying. They don’t have wings, breathe fire and one other minor detail… they’re found underwater.

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Are there plenty more fish in the sea?

Essay by Jamie Watts : Photographs by Michael AW

The Ocean is our key habitat.  Dominating the prime food webs in the oceans by the quadrillion, for hundreds of millions of years have been, and still are, the fishes.

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Story by Cheryl Lyn Dybas ( photos by Donald McVee & Ilya Raskin )

SPIRIT BEARS have one of the most distinctive and conspicuous ‘polymorphisms’ of any mammal.

THIS IS THE STORY OF A CREATURE ALMOST AS MYTHICAL AS SASQUATCH – an all-white bear called a spirit bear. Unlike Sasquatch, however, scientists have verified that spirit bears exist. In British Columbia’s remote Great Bear Rainforest, this rarer-than-rare bear appears, seemingly out of nowhere, in the coastal rainforest’s shadows. It’s also the story of the spirit bears’ kin -- black bears and brown bears – and how the three bears share salmon, their common prey, in a dusky, moss-covered realm.

photo by Rick Stuart-Smith

Essay by Dr Jemina Stuart-Smith, Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

I vividly recall uncovering my first Red Handfish from beneath a tangled mess of seaweed. I had been busy scouring the rocky reef searching for cryptic fishes and invertebrates as part of the Reef Life Survey (RLS) marine life monitoring program. We were surveying the only Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) site known to exist at the time. It was a relatively shallow dive, with cold Tasmanian sea temperatures. I was nearing the end of my transect line, fast approaching my thermal tolerance threshold, which admittedly is not particularly high, and had begun to doubt I would see a handfish that day. Red Handfish are notoriously tough to find.

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Essay and Photographs by Joanna Smart

– Winner, OG Emerging Photo Journalist Award - Ocean Geographic Pictures of the Year competition 2020

I WAS IN AWE. I hadn’t seen a kelp canopy like this in more than 15 years. I admired the healthy fronds, drifting in the gentle swell like golden threads and lamented the loss of the kelp forests that used to scatter the coastline of my home, Tasmania.

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By Joanna Smart – Rolex’s Our World Underwater Australasia Scholar 2019/2020

Be amazed at one of the worlds’ most unique underwater research projects, Nemo’s Garden

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