Image library of deep-sea creatures now online

Published On: Mar 27 2012 09:55:13 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 28 2012 09:02:32 AM HST

It has been no easy chore to compile and digitize countless hours of deep sea dives. But finally, the efforts of University of Hawaii biologist Christopher Kelly's are paying off for all to see.

"From our standpoint, we are hoping to build awareness of these animals because people don’t care about them if they don't know about them.  If they see how gorgeous many of the animals are then they start to care about them," said Kelly.

This month, the University of Hawaii rolled out a database which was only previously available only to researchers.

It includes some strange looking creatures, including images of a spikey red crab which looks like a small spider, but is really about two-feet-long.

The new guide shares the snapshots of the marine life in their natural surroundings.

But it is a resource like no other.

All thanks to mini-submarines operated by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory and the painstaking cataloging by Kelly.

"It's taken a long time, because we have thousands and thousands of images and you have to sift through those, and do the best you can to get the correct names," said Kelly.  "There are a lot of images out there on the internet that are inaccurately identified."

Kelly says Hawaii probably has the most variety of deep water corals and sponges

and of all the video he has screened he thinks the sponges are the most amazing.

"You feel like you are on a different planet sponges in deep water are huge. They can be the size of 55-gallon trash cans or bigger.  They can be on two or three foot stalks with huge globes on them," said Kelly.

In addition to snapping images, scientists often collect specimen for further study.

From things like the bat fish to bleeding coral that goes from white to red.

Out of this world images of life found in waters from 150 feet down to more than a mile deep are now a resource for the world.

The photo guide can be seen online at


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