A toxic sea urchin.

The degree to which the deep-sea fauna is known covers a wide range, with some species being relatively well studied and others being very poorly documented. In most cases, however, the data we have on these deep-sea animals were derived from gear deployed from ships far above the bottom. This indirect sampling usually produced specimens that arrived on deck in very poor condition. The changes in temperature and pressure, the rough treatment from some gear (like trawls), coupled with the fragile nature of most deep-sea animals (see above a toxic sea urchin) doomed many collections to be poor representatives of their ecosystems. Image courtesy of Ross et al., NOAA-OE, HBOI.

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