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July 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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My Word, Itís Ugly Down There!

from the July, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you're a Twitter follower, you're used to seeing endless political tweets and news of disasters worldwide, but in recent days Twitter went nuts over a sea creature that simply looks like a penis.

The crew of the research vessel RV Investigator, on expedition to Australia's eastern abyss, was out to discover what lived in what is the deepest part of the planet. At 13,000 feet (4,000m) deep, what's called the 'abyssopelic zone' has previously been difficult to explore.

Looking grotesque to us land dwellers, the creatures living there have adapted to survive the crushing pressure and freezing darkness. The phylum Sipuncula, or peanut worm, is one of those creatures, though it looks strangely familiar to adult eyes (probably teens, as well). Not only does it look like a magnificent erect phallus, but also it shrinks dramatically if threatened! Gentlemen, does that sound familiar?

Besides this brief moment of hilarity, the scientists also found worrying levels of pollution. A hundred km (around 60 miles) off Australia's coast, they saw PVC pipes, cans of paint, bottles, beer cans, wood chips and other debris most likely discarded from ships that passed during the last 200 years. As for some of the creatures they discovered, including our friend, you can feast your eyes on pictures by going to: goo.gl/ZpmD3T

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