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Explore the Mysteries of the Ocean’s Greatest Depths

Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss Opens April 2 at the Academy of Natural Sciences 

PHILADELPHIA, February 22, 2022

Explore the mysteries of the deep sea, discover creatures no one knew existed until recently and experience the technology that allows scientists to travel to the bottom of the ocean in Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss, opening Saturday, April 2 at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. 


Newly discovered life forms, bubbling thermal vents, compact research submersibles, and shipwrecks including the Titanic are among the attractions in this exciting adventure. Visitors will observe firsthand the technology that only recently has allowed scientists to travel to the ocean floor and discover the amazing creatures that thrive in total darkness.


“These days you need to go deep to discover something never before seen in the history of life on Earth,” said Mark Sabaj, PhD, collection manager of fishes at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Paleontologists do this by searching rocks in deep time. Oceanographers do this by searching the depths of our oceans. What they have found is truly new to human eyes and provides unique insights into evolution and biodiversity. 


A new study has found that there is a lot more life on the seafloor than there is higher up in the ocean, and nearly two-thirds of that life has not been formally identified. Some of that life, the study says, helps regulate Earth’s climate. 


Giant Tubeworms and Clams Await 


Among the more than 500 newly discovered species at the deepest depths are five-feet long tubeworms with bright red heads and giant white clams the size of dinner plates. Museum visitors will see these and learn about the geological forces deep within the earth and how superheated water erupting from deep vents supports all kinds of life forms. The sun doesn’t penetrate the water at these depths, yet seafloor inhabitants thrive in total darkness thanks to a unique life support system. 


Visitors also can:


  • test their skill at manipulating a robotic arm of a replica of the submersible Alvin to pick up lava rocks and clams similar to what scientists do to gather samples of creatures from the ocean floor. 

  • fly a remotely operated vehicle over a model of the deck of the Titanic. 

  • see how currents created by superheated water erupting from thermal vents carry nutrients that support life forms few ever dreamed existed. 

  • examine scientific specimens from the Academy’s collection that have a story to tell about their deep-sea origins. Specimens include crinoids, charismatic shrimp, anglerfish, ghosties and assfish (yes that’s right). 

  • read ocean-themed books for all ages in the book nook decorated with an octopus lamp loaned by a local artist and Alvin’s family photos. 

  • enjoy a video experience that reveals how deep the ocean is compared to Philadelphia City Hall. 


Extreme Deep reveals the secrets of the ocean and enriches our understanding of our connection to it.


“Our ocean is facing its biggest threat in history due to degrading ecosystems. Yet its water contains life that helps us breathe, provides food for billions of people, and absorbs heat from the sun which helps regulate our climate,” said Academy President and CEO Scott Cooper. “As the Academy and Drexel University celebrate Water Year in 2022, I hope everyone will gain a deeper understanding of our vital ocean and help protect it for future generations.”


Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss, will be on view through Sunday, July 24. Extreme Deep is presented by Evergreen Exhibitions in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 



The Media Preview will be held 10-11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 31. Please RSVP to 


To download images, visit the Press Room.


News media contact: 
Carolyn Belardo, Director of Public Relations, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University  
215-299-1043,, | Twitter @AcadNatSciPR | Press Room: 


Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to understanding the natural world and inspiring everyone to care for it. 

HOURS: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; 9-10 a.m. reserved for members. ADMISSION: $18 and up; for online tickets visit PHONE: 215-299-1000