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Deeper than light

13. Jan 2012 - 15. Apr 2012

“Deeper than light” is an international travelling exhibition, and is produced by University Museum of Bergen in collaboration with MARECO, Cenus and Marine Life (CoML).

In conditions of extreme pressure and total darkness, creatures of the deep sea have developed equally extreme adaptations. Since 2003, the Norwegian-led project MAR-ECO has been researching these life-forms along the mid-Atlantic ridge. One result of the project is the international travelling exhibition Deeper than Light, which has now come to Stavanger Museum. With a combination of biological specimens, multimedia, historic illustrations and modern art, the exhibition draws you to the fascinating life of the deep sea.


Living in the deep sea is a matter of extreme adaptation. It is a matter of survival and reproduction of the species. Limited access to food, total darkness, cold and enormous pressure contribute to creating a very challenging environment for the organisms that live here. In order to live in such an extreme environment, animals have developed fascinating body-shapes and functions in order to find food, avoid being eaten, and secure the continuance of the species. The majority of the sea is in total darkness. Daylight penetrates only to about 200 metres beneath the surface. So most of the deep-sea organisms have to manufacture their own biological light. This light has many functions: to illuminate, defend and camouflage oneself, and to attract prey or possible partners. The exhibition Deeper than Light takes you to a hitherto almost unknown world in the deep sea.


As well as showing the travelling exhibition Deeper than light, Museum Stavanger is providing its own contribution in the shape of an exciting exhibition about sea monsters. Many believe that sea monsters are probably as old as the coastal population which settled in Norway just as the ice disappeared 12,000 years ago. Sea monsters exist in a wide variety. There were fearsome beasts, serpents, mermen and mermaids which brought death and disaster to ships and their crews. But there were also good ones. Gods of the sea who protected seamen and fishermen in their need, and beautiful jotun women who took care of those who had drowned. The many stories about sea-monsters can be explained by rare occurrences when a stranded giant squid becomes a sea serpent. A hooded seal becomes a merman, and an (whale) exhalation becomes a beast that devours ships. However, this is not the whole explanation. People believed in sea-monsters. They were real and they were necessary. One reason is that the sea cannot be controlled, and no-one knew what it looked like deep under the surface. In many ways sea-monsters made the sea both human and understandable.