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The deep sea is the largest and most mysterious habitat on our planet. Taking up 95% of the Earth’s living space, it remains largely unexplored. It’s hard to imagine anything surviving in the pitch black, icy cold, crushing environment of the deep ocean, yet scientists are discovering a habitat rich with life. The creatures being uncovered are often so bizarre they might seem, at first glance, like aliens.

In November 2015, photographer Solvin Zankl accompanied a scientific expedition to the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern tropical Atlantic, where his mission was to document the strange creatures living beyond the reach of the sun. ‘There is no other place on earth where you can photograph such interestinglooking animals,’ says Zankl, a trained marine biologist with a lifelong fascination for life under the waves.

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Bioluminescent anglerfish (Cryptopsaras couesi), deep sea fish from, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Bioluminescent anglerfish (Cryptopsaras couesi), deep sea fish from, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Group of scientists aboard boat cruising around Cape Verde to samplle the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, December 2015.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Group of scientists aboard boat cruising around Cape Verde to samplle the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, December 2015.
Scientists with equipment to sample deep sea marine life, Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde. December 2015  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Scientists with equipment to sample deep sea marine life, Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde. December 2015
Crew lowering marine sampling equipment off ship, Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde.  December 2015  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Crew lowering marine sampling equipment off ship, Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde. December 2015
Squid (Liocranchia reinhardtii) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. | Atlantischer Ozean, nahe Kap Verde Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Squid (Liocranchia reinhardtii) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. | Atlantischer Ozean, nahe Kap Verde Captive.
Scaleless dragonfish (Bathophilus nigerrimus), deep sea fish, Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde  Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Scaleless dragonfish (Bathophilus nigerrimus), deep sea fish, Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde Captive.
Juvenile deep-sea pelagic snail (Limacina helicoides) captive specimen from off the coast of Cape Verde  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Juvenile deep-sea pelagic snail (Limacina helicoides) captive specimen from off the coast of Cape Verde
Planktonic Foraminifera, deep sea species, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Planktonic Foraminifera, deep sea species, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Siphonophore (Abylopsis eschscholtz)  pelagic animal, captive, from Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Siphonophore (Abylopsis eschscholtz) pelagic animal, captive, from Atlantic Ocean, close to Cape Verde
Centric diatom (Centrales) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Centric diatom (Centrales) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Radiolaria, also called Radiozoa (Heliosphaera sp.) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Radiolaria, also called Radiozoa (Heliosphaera sp.) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Ostracod (Gigantocypris muelleri) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Ostracod (Gigantocypris muelleri) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Narcomedusa jellyfish (Solmundella bitentaculata), Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde.  Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Narcomedusa jellyfish (Solmundella bitentaculata), Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Brachiolaria larva, late larval stage of starfish with sea star rudiment. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Brachiolaria larva, late larval stage of starfish with sea star rudiment. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Juvenile deep water pelagic octopus (Vitreledonella richardi) semi-translucent species, from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Juvenile deep water pelagic octopus (Vitreledonella richardi) semi-translucent species, from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Pram bug (Phronima) female with young in nest made from salp body, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive. Highly commended in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Pram bug (Phronima) female with young in nest made from salp body, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive. Highly commended in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017.
Flatfish (Bothidae sp) larva with upright swimming and bilaterally symmetric bodies. When the larva develops to an adult asymmetric vertebrat, the right eye migrates from the right side of the body to...  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Flatfish (Bothidae sp) larva with upright swimming and bilaterally symmetric bodies. When the larva develops to an adult asymmetric vertebrat, the right eye migrates from the right side of the body to...
Deep sea eel Leptocephalus larva (Elopomorpha) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea eel Leptocephalus larva (Elopomorpha) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Deep sea eel Leptocephalus larva (Elopomorpha) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea eel Leptocephalus larva (Elopomorpha) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Boxer snipe eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) portrait, deep sea fish from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Boxer snipe eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) portrait, deep sea fish from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Boxer snipe eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) deep sea fish, Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Boxer snipe eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) deep sea fish, Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Scaless black dragonfish (Melanostomias biseriatus) deep sea fish from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Scaless black dragonfish (Melanostomias biseriatus) deep sea fish from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Deep sea Threadtail (Stylephorus chordatus). This deep sea fish is a mesopelagic species with eyes modified to detect the slightest traces of light. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea Threadtail (Stylephorus chordatus). This deep sea fish is a mesopelagic species with eyes modified to detect the slightest traces of light. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Photophores of Diaphanous hatchetfish (Sternoptyx diaphana), photographed from underneath. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Photophores of Diaphanous hatchetfish (Sternoptyx diaphana), photographed from underneath. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Cock-eyed squid (Histioteuthis bonnellii) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Cock-eyed squid (Histioteuthis bonnellii) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Pearly lanternfish (Myctophum nitidulum), deep sea fish, from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Pearly lanternfish (Myctophum nitidulum), deep sea fish, from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Crab zoea larvae with strong and almost spherical carapace. With long and prominent rostrum pointing downwards. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Crab zoea larvae with strong and almost spherical carapace. With long and prominent rostrum pointing downwards. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Deep sea crab megalopa stage larva, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea crab megalopa stage larva, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Black dragonfish (Malacosteus niger) deep sea species with a light organ beneath its eye. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Black dragonfish (Malacosteus niger) deep sea species with a light organ beneath its eye. Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Loosejaw fish (Malacosteus niger) with a light organ beneath its eye. Deep sea species in Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Loosejaw fish (Malacosteus niger) with a light organ beneath its eye. Deep sea species in Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Marine planktonic copepod (Sapphirina sp.) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Taken with digital focus stacking. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Marine planktonic copepod (Sapphirina sp.) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Taken with digital focus stacking. Captive.
Marine planktonic Copepod (Sapphirina sp.) brightly coloured copepods. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Marine planktonic Copepod (Sapphirina sp.) brightly coloured copepods. Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Bioluminescent anglerfish (Cryptopsaras couesi) deep sea fish found off the coast of Cape Verde, Atlantic Ocean. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Bioluminescent anglerfish (Cryptopsaras couesi) deep sea fish found off the coast of Cape Verde, Atlantic Ocean. Captive.
Deep sea fish (Gigantactis vanhoeffeni) with enlarged first filament of dorsal fin, called the illicium, with bioluminescent photophore / lure at its end. From Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea fish (Gigantactis vanhoeffeni) with enlarged first filament of dorsal fin, called the illicium, with bioluminescent photophore / lure at its end. From Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Johnson's abyssal seadevil, (Melanocetus johnsonii) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Johnson's abyssal seadevil, (Melanocetus johnsonii) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Larva of an Atlantic longarm octopus (Octopus defilippi) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde.  Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Larva of an Atlantic longarm octopus (Octopus defilippi) Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Squid (Abraliopsis atlantica) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Squid (Abraliopsis atlantica) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Juvenile glass squid (Bathothauma lyromma) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Juvenile glass squid (Bathothauma lyromma) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean close to Cape Verde. Captive.
Deep sea squid (Chiroteuthis mega) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde.  Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea squid (Chiroteuthis mega) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Deep sea fish (Moridae sp.) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea fish (Moridae sp.) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Prawn larvae (Plesiopenaeus armatus) Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Prawn larvae (Plesiopenaeus armatus) Deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Sea butterfly (Diacria trispinosa) captive deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Sea butterfly (Diacria trispinosa) captive deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde.
Deep sea copepod, from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Deep sea copepod, from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Pelagic marine gastropod mollusc (Atlanta inclinata) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Pelagic marine gastropod mollusc (Atlanta inclinata) from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Flatfish (Bothidae sp) larva, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Flatfish (Bothidae sp) larva, Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) portrait, deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.  -  Solvin Zankl
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Solvin Zankl / Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) portrait, deep sea species from Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde. Captive.
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