Photo album:

Mushy, Gushy and Sometimes Squishy: Soft-bodied Creatures of Johnston Atoll


Album compiled by Science Communication Fellow Stephanie Weinger

In the deep ocean over 1000 meters below the surface, temperatures are low and pressures are high. Many soft-bodied creatures that may look mushy and gushy have developed unique adaptations to remain dense and firm under the right conditions. While scientists aren’t exactly sure why so many deep-sea species coevolved soft, near-translucent bodies, many theories exist on how this adaptation helped them thrive in the deep. For example, softer bodies help reduce the need for additional energy intake since there is less muscle mass or they may able to withstand higher pressures better. 

On expedition NA153, a biological and geological exploration of Johnston Atoll, scientists aboard E/V Nautilus encountered a wide range of creatures that at first glance, appear to have mushy, gushy – and sometimes squishy – bodies. 

Let’s dive in.