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I. Introduction

BRUCE ROBISON: It's my pleasure and your good fortune to be bringing George Somero up here to speak to you now about the adaptations of animals that live in the deep sea. George's title covers it all in the sense of adaptation to the deep sea, life in the cold, dark, high pressure world. George originated in Minnesota. Fortunately for us, when he decided to leave he turned west instead of east and came to Stanford University where he did his Ph.D. research. After that he moved to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he spent many years as a researcher investigating the adaptations of deep sea animals and of animals that inhabit a variety of harsh environments. In many respects George is preeminent in that field of determining the ways, the mechanisms, by which animals are allowed to enter and indeed to thrive in habitats that to us appear to be virtually uninhabitable.

After doing more at Scripps than many people could accomplish in three careers, George moved to Oregon State for a few years, got his taste of fog, and, lucky for us, he was able to complete the circle and come back to Stanford and to assume the David and Lucile Packard Professor's Chair in Marine Science at the Hopkins Marine Station where he is now in residence. George has no peer in his understanding of these processes. We're all very fortunate to be able to learn from him today about the very special ways that animals adapt to these habitats. George...

GEORGE SOMERO: Thank you very much, Bruce. What I would like to do is offer you some footnotes on the first two talks and explain how all these beautiful animals go about their business and succeed in living in the deep sea. We've been fortunate over the years to have had many good collaborators and we're certainly enjoying the fact that we're now near the people at MBARI who have, as you've seen, state of the art technology for observing and collecting organisms. What I would like to do is share with you some of the insights that we've gained from looking at deep sea organisms. To a certain extent, as mentioned earlier, I'm going to try to cover a bit of the territory that my good friend Jim Childress was unable to cover here today because he basically is underwater like a deep sea organism, down in Santa Barbara with a flooded airport.

to the
Deep Sea

Bruce stole a little bit of my thunder by quoting from an article by Dr. Cindy Van Dover who is both a Ph.D. in oceanography and a former pilot on the Alvin. Cindy wrote an article that came out in Discover magazine a few years ago with this quote, "Even today we know more about the moon's behind than the ocean's bottom." This quote emphasizes two of the points that Bruce made in his talk, namely, that the deep sea is the major fraction of the biosphere, probably 80% of the biosphere by volume, and it is populated by extraordinarily interesting organisms about which we know relatively little.


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