Bodil BluhmResearch Assistant Professor of marine BiologySchool of Fisheries and Ocean SciencesUniversity that Alaska, Fairbanks

Katrin Iken Assistant Professor of maritime Biology university of Alaska, Fairbanks

Life on the Arctic Deep Sea Floor

Animals the live ~ above the sea floor are called benthos. Most of these pets lack a backbone and also are referred to as invertebrates. Common benthic invertebrates encompass sea anemones, sponges, corals, sea stars, sea urchins, worms, bivalves, crabs, and also many more.

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Recent research shows that the diversity of types living in the deep-sea may rival the varieties richness discovered in dry coral reefs! at first, scientists discovered this puzzling since we believed that few lifeforms could withstand the harsh, deep regions of the oceans. However, now we understand that maritime benthic organisms are well adapted to their environment and can live and thrive also in the cold dark waters the the deep sea.

These pets adapt to permanently short temperatures such together those discovered in the Arctic by having actually low metabolic rates. This method that biology in cold waters live and also work in ~ a "lower speed” than organisms in warmer waters. This does not mean, however, that deep-sea organisms do not do as well as organisms native warmer waters. Rather, cold-adaptation way that this animals" enzymes and metabolic procedures work best at ambient short temperatures and also at high pressure. Most marine invertebrates lack gas-filled body compartments (like lungs in humans) that would collapse at high pressure. Thus, many deep-sea organisms would die in tropical temperature or if they were maintained in one aquarium. Lock would have to be preserved in unique pressurized tanks.

Many deep-sea organisms, including organisms in polar regions, also grow very slowly. In fact, some arctic deep-sea organisms thrive as lot in 10 year as some tropical organisms flourish in one year! This means that polar and deep-sea species live to be much older 보다 tropical species. A polar sea urchin can acquire as old as your grandmother, but a tropical one would most likely die prior to its 10th birthday.

Going Hungry in ~ Depth

Food access strongly determines just how well Arctic benthic organisms and also communities will certainly develop and also grow. Sunlight usually cannot reach below 200 ft, which prevents marine micro- and also macro-algae—significant food sources—from growing on the deep sea floor. Hence, sea floor animals depend mainly on food particles that rain under from the optimal of the water obelisk or room transported downward follow me the continental slopes. A an excellent portion the this “food rain” is consumed by animals in the water column, leaving the deep-sea creatures v what small remains. Deep-sea areas, therefore, tend to be areas of minimal food accessibility and regularly have “bad quality” food. Moreover, ice-covered areas get also less algal manufacturing than non-ice-covered areas, resulting in even less “food rain” for the Arctic deep-sea benthos.

So much Research, So small Knowledge

The Arctic ocean is identified by broad, shallow continent shelf locations (average depth about 50m) i beg your pardon are regularly nutrient-rich and biologically active. Part shelf areas of the north American Arctic are teeming v benthic life such as worms, bivalves and also crustaceans, which have actually been learned extensively. However, us know little about benthic areas at deeper areas of the Arctic Ocean, particularly the Canadian basin with depths approximately 3000 m. The lengthy seasonal ice cover and the good depth render the sea floor of the deep Arctic Ocean exceptionally hard and also expensive to access and sample. Only now do we have adequate ships and equipment to endeavor into this habitats – yet the deep Arctic s remains a challenge.

Our Goals

For this expedition, us hope come observe and also identify Arctic deep-sea fauna and also explore their food web. A remotely operated automobile (ROV) on board will be our eye at the sea floor. For the an initial time, we will watch what sort of organisms control to live in this too much habitat, and how abundant they are. These in situ (onsite) and also real-time observations also will tell united state something about their lifestyle and hopefully your feeding habits. By making use of ROV technology, we intend to discover species that have not however been seen in this area or may even be brand-new to science. These collections may adjust our existing view that the watch impoverished Arctic deep-sea fauna.

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Our second objective is to learn around the benthic food internet of the deep Arctic benthic community. Even with the use of an ROV, it will certainly be a rare and lucky chance if we are able to observe this. Thus, to augment our observational data, we arrangement to study naturally developing isotopes, in details carbon and also nitrogen isotopes, to recognize relative trophic location of types on the wide scale of neighborhoods or ecosystems. Throughout this expedition, us hope to trace food sources and follow organic issue flowing through the triangle that the pelagic, the sea ice and the benthos. The outcomes will tell us which species feed on fairly fresh product (good top quality food), which feed on various other animals, and which endure on old, reworked detritus (bad top quality food). The food web evaluation of a whole ecosystem will help us identify vital players and also environmental crucial factors in the greatly unexplored Arctic deep-sea ecosystem.

Click below for an ext information ~ above recent expeditions studying deep-sea Benthos: Diving to Extremes