THE MYSTERY OF THE DEEP
Looked at from the depths of space, our world is a bright blue planet. The reason for this extraordinary colour of the Earth is the “water” which covers 70% of it. With its water, the Earth resembles an oasis in the middle of a vast desert of space.
Life on Earth does not just consist of what we see on land. There is also a rich undersea life far from our sight.
Each with its own unique design, the oceans are home to very different kinds of sea creatures. To such an extent, in fact, that the millions of species in the seas are little by little increasing with every new dive.
In this film you will make the close acquaintance of the fascinating sea creatures living in the oceans and also witness God’s incomparable art of creation with examples you might never have seen before.
THE MYSTERY OF THE DEEP
These white particles being carried along by the current are actually tiny living things. Plankton represent the largest number of living things in the sea. They are invertebrates, which come in a wide range of varieties, all very different to one another. These strangely shaped creatures represent the basic source of food for sea life. They are a rich source of protein for many sea creatures, from 100 ton whales to jellyfish. The oceans are full of these creatures, which are at first sight invisible.
Spiny skinned invertebrates are in the majority on the ocean floor; sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers and all the rest. These living things look for food by combing the ocean floor.
The sea urchin is an interesting-looking invertebrate. It has no hard shell to protect its soft body from predators, although it does possess a deterrent weapon: its spines. Sea urchins’ spines are mobile, and even poisonous in some species, and can reach up to 30 cm in length.
These tubular feet protruding from its body are the sea chestnut’s invaluable limbs. These feet are both flexible and at the same time have a suction property. Using them, the creature can easily cling to rocks and wander about the sea bed. The tubes are just like the urchin’s eyes. They perceive heat, light and vibrations in the water in a most sensitive manner. Plankton swept along by the currents are sucked up by the sea urchin’s feet, which also serve as the creature’s gills. Oxygen and carbon-dioxide are exchanged here. The sea urchin’s mouth is immediately underneath its body. It scratches up with its teeth and eats algae from the rocks over which it travels.
Sea urchin reproduction is a most fascinating time. They come along side by side, and as the female leaves her eggs into the current, the male deposits his sperm. There are millions of these cells. The clouds of eggs mingle with the clouds of sperm. When one considers all the difficulties and dangers they will face it becomes apparent why so many cells are given off.
The genes from the female combine with those from the male. The number of genes in these cells has been deliberately reduced by half. This allows a healthy sea urchin cell to form when the genes from the male and female are brought together. When the male and female cells combine, the cells immediately begin to divide and multiply and to assume their various characteristics. These dividing cells later assume a larval form. The sea urchin’s spiny extensions, tubular feet, digestive system and divergent tissues continue developing during the larval stage.
This is a scallop in the larval stage … and this is a starfish larva … These will mature and be carried to new locations by the current, and continue life under the sea.
Who is it who determines the number of egg and sperm cells?
Who selects the timing, and decides that the number of egg and sperm cell genes should be half that in the other cells?
No creature living at the bottom of the sea can come by such information by itself. There is no doubt that it is the almighty God, the possessor of infinite might and knowledge, Who gives shape to the sea urchin and determines every stage of its life.
Another spiny skinned invertebrate which lives under the sea is the starfish. It moves with ease across the sea floor. Special suction cups have been placed on its arms to allow it to cling on in safety. This allows it to climb where it chooses. It is also thanks to these suction cups on its arms that it is able to catch and feed on plankton.
The starfish employs the hydraulic pressure method in other to move its arms, in exactly the same way that machines lift heavy loads with their arms. The starfish has tubular feet along the length of the inside of its arms. These are connected to an internal tubing system full of water. When the muscles contract the tubes, the hydraulic pressure which results sends the liquid to the feet. In this way, hydraulic pressure sets up a wave movement in the feet. Thanks to the liquid pressure within the arms, the feet move, one backwards and one forwards, allowing the starfish to move where it wishes.
This flawless design is a proof of creation for believers. In Sura 45, the almighty God reveals to us the need to consider living things:
And in your creation and all the creatures He has spread about there are Signs for people with certainty. (Qur’an, 45: 4)
The nautilus is living evidence of creation, proved by the fossil record to have undergone no change in the last 500 million years, and sufficient on its own to undermine the theory of evolution. The creature takes its name from the submarine in Jules Vernes’ famous novel, and attracts the interest of scientists with its impressive design. The nautilus has special chambers in its shell. There are 4 of these chambers in newly hatched specimens, and up to 30 in mature individuals. The creature occupies only the outermost chamber. The job of the other chambers is, just like in a submarine, to hold in and release air to allow the creature to descend to specific depths. The nautilus is thus capable of swimming at ease in depths between 90 and 450 metres.
The nautilus rises by filling these chambers with air, and descends into the deep by expelling that air. But where does it find that air? Scientists seeking an answer to that question encountered a miraculous system. A special gas is produced by biochemical means inside the nautilus’ body. This gas changes places with the water in the chambers. This technique, which man began to employ in submarines in the 20th century, has been used by the nautilus for millions of years.
The nautilus employs another interesting technique to move; jet propulsion. It expels the water it collects under its shell from a hole under its arms.
The nautilus’ shell allows it the possibility of camouflaging itself. In this technique, known as ”countershading” in camouflage, someone looking down on the nautilus from above will be unable to see it because of the thick stripes on its surface. Someone looking from below, on the other hand, perceives its light-coloured underside as the same colour as the surface of the water.
It is quite impossible for the nautilus itself either to know the chemical reaction which produces the gas or to set up the structure to carry out that reaction inside its own body. Neither the nautilus nor blind chance designed the complex structure within its shell.
This incomparably superior design is the work of God, Who created all that exists. His attribute of al-Badi’ (The Originator of all creation) is revealed thus in one verse of the Qur’an:
He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth… (Qur’an, 6: 101)
The cuttlefish possesses a very complex eye structure. At this point it is out of the question for it to miss its prey. The better your eyes see around you, the more you have to conceal yourself. It has 10 limbs, all of which possess muscular sucker discs. It can swim quickly or slowly. It moves by forcing water from a siphon beneath its head. With its hydrodynamic shape which allows it to progress without encountering water resistance, the cuttlefish is one of the fastest-moving sea creatures. Some species are capable of swimming at 33 km an hour. The secret behind such great speed is a network of protein fibres woven through its body. Thanks to the strength and elasticity of these fibres, it is able to pump water very quickly.
There is one very important point here which needs careful attention: the working principle of today’s jet propulsion engines is exactly the same as that of the cuttlefish. A technique which mankind only began to imitate in the 20th century has been used by the cuttlefish for millions of years.
The octopus is an eight-armed hunter. It uses a most interesting method of concealing itself from other animals: camouflage. The cells which make up its skin automatically adapt to its surroundings and replicate, just like a mirror, their colour and texture.
The octopus’ eyes are very sharp. It can identify changes in its surroundings most effectively, and thus changes the colour and pattern of its skin in accordance with its surroundings. Its skin is covered in special pigment-containing cells known as “chromatophores.” These cells in the skin expand or shrink when stimulated by the nervous system, creating colour patterns that can be changed instantly. Different cells carry different colour pigments and these allow countless colour combinations and patterns to form.
The creature most frequently hunted by the octopus is the crab. The octopus expertly defends itself from the crab’s powerful pincers, and its teeth are strong enough to break the crab’s shell.
With its superior features, this hunter, which consists of moving muscles, is a perfect creature which conceals itself in the finest possible way.
It is impossible for the octopus to have felt the need to conceal itself from other creatures and then to have installed special colour cells in its skin. This splendid camouflage system possessed by the octopus is, without doubt, an example of the flawless creation of the All-Knowing God.
This is a lionfish. Its aggressive appearance is no bluff. It is a genuinely dangerous animal. The fins on its back contain poisonous spines. These spines protect it in the event of an attack. It also uses its fins to direct its prey in the direction it wishes, pulling the prey into its mouth once it is trapped.
The lionfish’s attractive appearance attracts its prey and allows it to be caught.
Living things survive thanks to their bodies being created to be compatible with the atmospheric pressure around them. We do not realise it, but the air around us creates a pressure of 1 kg on every square centimetre of our skin. Our bodies, however, and those of all other living things, have been created to be compatible with that pressure.
The oceans consist of a substance even heavier than air: water. Let us now take a dive to see the effects of depth on sea life. As you dive down, the pressure doubles every 10 metres. This pressure is the weight of the water above you. Yet there are living things which are perfectly capable of living in such environments; these are the sea creatures who are created to be compatible with this pressure.
Significant sunlight can only penetrate 100 metres down into the ocean freely. Creatures capable of making photosynthesis by using the Sun’s rays are found at these depths. The coral reefs are just such an area teeming with life.
Photosynthesis becomes impossible past 150 metres down. You will encounter no plants there. You will, however, encounter creatures which feed on the wastes from creatures living on the surface, such as sponges. Despite resembling plants, these are actually an organised animal colony.
As one dives down to 300 metres, one encounters a constant incline. This is known as the “continental shelf.” This extends as far as 250 kilometres from the shore. When you follow it you end up at a depth of 4 kilometres. At such depths the water temperature falls to below +4 degrees. The water pressure reaches up to 400 times that on the surface.
No light reaches these depths from the surface. It is pitch black. At first sight, the appearance is one of a lifeless desert. Yet if you look patiently around, interesting creatures begin to appear. Life continues even at this high pressure. The life systems of these interesting fish have been designed to withstand such enormous pressure.
You will be encountering the fish you are about to see for the first time. These are legendary fish which have never appeared on the surface…
This is a dragon fish. It is 1 metre long. The pits on its jaw possess a special sensory tissue, thanks to which it can identify the movements of its prey and catch it in the darkness. Thanks to these extraordinary eyes it can easily identify the location of luminous fish. And the dragon fish continues to live quietly, kilometres down under the surface of the sea.
This is a grenadier fish. It is about 50 cm long. It travels long distances on the sea bed. Its aim is to collect dead fish or waste products sinking down from the surface. In this way it not only meets its own food needs, but also keeps the ocean floor clean. Sensor pits in its cheeks identify the source of vibrations in the water, and with its large eye it follows dead fish sinking down to the bottom. The almighty God has created the grenadier fish to live at depths of 3,000 metres.
Instead of roaming the ocean floor, the tripod fish prefers to wait in one spot. The pectoral fins of the fish have long tips and its tail fin extends downwards. This gives it a special appearance as if it were standing on three legs. It spends hours in this position on the sea bed, waiting for something to eat to pass by. The tripod fish’s tiny eyes are almost completely blind. Behind its head are two long antennae, or feelers. It thus perceives the slightest movement in the water in a most sensitive manner. The design of the tripod is the work of an intelligence. The almighty God has shaped this creature in accordance with its needs.
Here is another surprise in the depths of the ocean: the flying octopus DUMBO. It was given the name DUMBO because the fins on either side of its head resemble elephant ears. It floats through the deep like a flying elephant. Yet it is no bigger than a basket ball. Thanks to the webbed structure between its tentacles it soars almost effortlessly through the water.
Excellent sight is essential in these dark waters in order to find food and avoid falling prey to others. This vital problem has been resolved in some creatures by means of a tactic of invisibility.
This is the hatchetfish. It lives at depths of 1,000 metres and is 10 cm long. Its large eyes are located so as to look upwards. That is because at these depths fish tend to hunt other fish passing above them. At the same time, of course, they also have to be invisible. Indeed, their bodies have been created to do just that. Their bodies are flat, and their silver colour allows them to camouflage their bodies in the darkness.
At this point, a fish looking down could easily make the hatchetfish out. That is because at this depth, many fish, thanks to their large eyes, can identify their prey by the light filtering down from the surface. However, the flawless camouflage system of the hatchetfish protects it from that danger.
The hatchetfish possesses an astonishing deceptive mechanism against the danger from a pair of eyes looking up from below. Special cells which produce light and are known as “photophores” have been placed in its stomach. This light is a biological one: in other words “bioluminescence”! This light is produced by a chemical reaction which is initiated by the interaction of two different chemicals. Cells in the stomach of the hatchetfish imitate the colour of the light filtering down from the surface and give off light of exactly the same colour. This clever camouflage helps to make these fish invisible from below so it’s difficult for predators to spot them.
It is evident that this astonishing defence system is the product of a very superior intelligence. The hatchetfish cannot be aware of how it looks from below. Neither can it know how light is produced. Nor is it possible for such a sensitive system to have come about in the fish’s body by chance. The axe fish is just one of the countless examples of God’s art of creation. In one verse of the Qur’an, God reveals that He has dominion over every living thing in every corner of the world:
… He knows everything in the land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it. There is no seed in the darkness of the earth, and nothing moist or dry which is not in a Clear Book. (Qur’an, 6: 59)
This fish, which lives at depths of 4,000 metres, has been given the name of the angler fish. This is because it employs a similar method to the way that fishermen use brightly coloured rods to attract fish. A light-emitting rod protrudes from immediately above its head. This light is most attractive to cuttlefish, for instance, which imagine it to be a tiny fish.
The hunting technique employed by the angler fish is the product of a superior intelligence. It is not possible for the fish to produce light in its cells at will and then to use that light as it wishes. This system is the work of the almighty God, its creator.
In order to hunt at this depth and in dark waters, fish have also been equipped with other systems, one of which you are about to see for the first time. Some fish even have headlights which illuminate the area in front of them, as can be seen immediately beneath the eyes of the malacosteid fish. This is no ordinary light, but one with a very special purpose. The light is red. Yet other fish do not perceive that red light. In this way, this equipment gives the malacosteid fish night vision without being seen itself.
Biological light is also used for defence purposes as well as for attack: just as happens with the way this shrimp defends itself. When the shrimp senses danger and its predator goes into action, it squirts out chemicals into its face, brightly illuminating the surrounding water. In the extreme darkness of the deep ocean, this light blinds the predator and allows enough time for the shrimp to escape.
The way that the shrimp employs such a defence tactic leads us to the fact of creation. The shrimp cannot know which chemicals to use, nor how. Neither can it manage the fine tuning necessary to delay the chemical reaction until it senses danger. God, the Almighty and the All-Wise, Who knows everything, has created the shrimp together with its defence system.
This ostracod is no larger than a bean, yet since it has one of the sharpest senses of sight of all fish in the dark, it represents a great peril. Its favourite prey is a kind of plankton known as “copepods.” Copepods produce light in order to communicate with one another. The ostracod approaches them by following these light emissions as they go on and off. Yet the copepod also has its own defence tactic. When danger approaches it squirts clouds of light as a decoy to predators. Confused, the ostracod starts following the other sources of light, while the copepod escapes in the darkness.
Light-production is these creatures’ most important weapon. They use light for both attack and defence purposes. This system evidently comes about as the result of a series of chemical reactions. Yet such a system cannot be explained either in terms of chance or of the knowledge and free will of this creature. It is the almighty God Who flawlessly shapes these light-producing creatures in this environment.
The depths of the ocean are like a fairground … Millions of sea creatures, with all their very different designs, live in the oceans. These creatures in the depths of the oceans remained a secret for thousands of years, but they have enormous significance for people in the present day, who are able to observe them. This great variety is a means whereby mankind can once again see and understand that the almighty God Who created them possesses infinite might and knowledge.
Glory be to Him Who created all the pairs: from what the earth produces and from themselves and from things unknown to them. (Qur’an, 36: 36)
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