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Collecting live fish to study from near-surface waters is a fairly easy task for biologists. The same cannot be said about fish from the ocean’s twilight zone, 200-500 feet beneath the surface. Fish in this region are subject to pressure changes when brought up from their deep water home, which can result in injury or death. Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences were eager to find a way to collect these fish without causing any harm. They needed a decompression chamber that they could bring with them on their dives and use to transport the fish. The only problem was that nothing like this existed. So they built one.

The new, media-rich e-book from QUEST, Engineering Is Bringing Fish Up from the Deep, explores the story of how Academy scientists designed a portable decompression chamber in order to safely transport fish discovered on their expeditions to the Philippines. The book dives into the science of pressure — from the air pressure we experience every day to water pressure and the special adaptations of fish. The book also contains a career spotlight video of the Academy biologist who spearheaded the process of designing the chamber, and a hands-on activity where students of all ages can experience the effects of changing air pressure.

Engineering Is Bringing Fish Up from the Deep is the second e-book in our Engineering Is… series and is available to view on your computer, tablet and smartphone, for free. You can find links to all of KQED’s e-books at

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Discover how scientists engineered a way to study new fish species from the ocean’s twilight zone.

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E-book: Engineering Is Bringing Fish Up from the Deep 18 December,2015Andrea Aust


Andrea Aust

Andrea is the Senior Manager of Science Education for KQED, where she has been developing science education resources and providing professional learning for STEM educators for more than 10 years. Andrea graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Environmental Science and earned her M.A. in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of San Francisco. Prior to KQED, she taught, developed, and managed marine science and environmental education programs in Aspen, Catalina Island and the Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter at @KQEDaust.

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