Question Sheet: Eyes on the Depths


Before reading:

  1. What are some challenges faced by scientists who study the deep sea?
  2. What kinds of scientists study the oceans?

During reading:

  1. Why does Edith Widder compare exploring the deep-sea to “driving a tank

    through Yellowstone”?

  2. What are some advantages of the Johnson-Sea-Link II over other types of


  3. How does the Eye-in-the-Sea camera system work?
  4. What is bioluminescence?
  5. How do humans see differently from most deep-sea creatures?
  6. What are some theories for how animals use bioluminescence?

After reading:

  1. What might scientists be able to learn from a camera permanently placed at

    the bottom of the ocean that they could not learn from a temporary set-up? Are

    there any ways that a temporary camera set-up might be preferable to a permanent


  2. How do animals navigate through the darkness in the deep ocean? Besides

    vision, what are other ways of understanding a landscape or environment?

  3. Based on what you’ve learned about deep-sea exploration and communication,

    what kinds of tools and features do you think the next generation of

    submersibles should have?

  4. Why might it be unnecessary for a deep-sea animal to see red light?
  5. Compare how ecosystems work in the ocean and on land. What are some

    similarities and differences?

  6. What do oceanographic institutions do?


  1. Ocean conservation is very important to many people, but others, such as

    professional fisherman, have concerns about it. Set up a debate with a friend

    where one person argues in favor of Marine Protected Areas, which are like

    National Parks in watery environments. The other person argues against these

    marine reserves. For more information, see (Wikipedia), and


    (World Wildlife Fund).

  2. Which oceans do you think need the most protection? Which need the least?

    Explain your answers.


  1. In the beginning of the article, the writer compares the ocean to Alice

    in Wonderland

    . Is that a good image to start the article with? How does the

    comparison change your understanding of the story? Why might the author of a

    science article mention a non-scientific book?

  2. Widder’s website contains lots of images of exotic deep-sea creatures. Visit

    her image gallery at Now,

    write a poem that carefully describes what one of these creatures looks like.

    Imagine that your reader has never seen this creature before.


According to the conservation group, an estimated 80 percent of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface. Yet, less than 10 percent of the oceans have been explored by humans. And according to the All Species Foundation, about 1.7 million species have been described. But there could be anywhere from 10 million to 100 million

species on the planet. Based on these numbers, how many species do you think

there are in the oceans? Explain your reasoning.