As a diver descends into the deep, it’s as if she’s swimming down through a history of life. Creatures millions of years old, swim with her. We humans just got here, really, and the story of life on earth is more theirs than ours.

It’s really amazing that there’s a place where so many of these living relics can be encountered. It’s easy to understand why oceanographer Sylvia Earle waxes rhapsodic sharing the experience.

an-ancient-world-beneath-the-waves

While certainly many ocean creatures are big — the blue whale is the world’s largest animal ever — many of them are tiny, too. Scientists have traditionally had to take them out of the sea, into a lab, and under a microscope to get a look at them. Just recently, scientists have developed and deployed an underwater microscope so these life forms can be seen for the first time in their natural environment.