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The Deep
The benthic and abyssal zones of the deep sea are found beneath the pelagic zone. Light does not penetrate these waters, yet marine life has adapted to this harsh environment, and a surprising number of species inhabit these waters.

The zone beneath the pelagic zones is the benthic zone and is defined as the lowest level of a body of water such as an ocean or a lake, and included the bottom sediment surface and some sub-surface layers.

Organisms living in this zone are called benthos. They generally live in close relationship with the substrate bottom; many such organisms are permanently attached to the bottom. In oceanic environments, benthic habitats can be further zoned by depth.

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Many species of deep ocean fish have special adaptations to living in extremely high pressure, low light conditions. Viper fish (Mesopelagic - found at 80-1600 meters - about a mile down) are some of the most wicked looking fish dredged up from the depths.

Some of them are black as night all over with light organs (called photophores) in strategic places on their bodies, including one on a long dorsal fin that serves as a lure for the fish it preys upon. Some viperfish (and many other deep ocean fish species) don't have any pigment (color) at all - they're "see through".

They also have enlarged eyes, presumably for gathering as much light as possible where there is little or no light at all. The light organs create lights by using a chemical process called bioluminescence. Other deep ocean fish, such as the the gulper eel have a hinged skull, which can rotate upward to swallow large prey. They also have large stomachs which can stretch to accommodate a fish much larger than itself.

The gulper eel is particularly well-known for its impossibly large mouth - big enough to get its mouth around (and swallow!) creatures much bigger than itself. Fish that live down here must adapt to a very low food supply, eating only "scraps" that sink down from above, or sometimes eating each other.

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