Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deep, open ocean is vastly under-explored, study finds

Date:
August 3, 2010
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that the deep open ocean, by far the largest habitat for life on Earth, is currently the most under-explored area of the sea, and the one we know least about.

Named after Dudley Foster, pilot of the US Navy submersible Alvin, who collected the first specimen, Bathycyroe fosteri (Order Lobata) is common in the midwater plankton collections. A lobate ctenophore found at intermediate depths in all the oceans. This species is very common and abundant ctenophore near the mid-Atlantic ridge.
Credit: MAR-ECO/Marsh Youngbluth

New research from the University of Sheffield has discovered that the deep open ocean, by far the largest habitat for life on Earth, is currently the most under-explored area of the sea, and the one we know least about.

The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, has mapped the distribution of marine species records and found that most of our knowledge of marine biodiversity comes from the shallow waters or the ocean floor, rather than the deep pelagic ocean- the water column deeper than the sunlit surface waters but above the sea bed.

This area is home to uncounted animals which never experience a hard surface, including megamouth sharks, giant squid, and a myriad of smaller species of gelatinous animals and other planktonic organisms.

The research was led by Dr Tom Webb, a Royal Society Research Fellow and marine ecologist from the University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, in conjunction with the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) secretariat at Rutgers University, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in the USA.

The team used data from OBIS, which collates all available information on geographical distributions of marine life, to plot the position in the water of seven million records of marine species. They combined this data with a separate dataset of the bottom surface of the ocean, and then attributed each separate record to a position in the ocean, to enable them to provide a global analysis of the depth distribution of recorded marine biodiversity.

The almost limitless deep waters of the sea have been largely under explored due to a long-held belief, first expressed by Charles Wyville Thomson, leader of the challenger Expedition in the 1870s, which effectively launched the discipline of deep sea biology. He believed that life in the deep water was confined primarily to a belt at the surface and one near the sea bed, and believed the area in the middle to be almost completely without larger animals.

More recent sampling, employing new techniques, has revealed that this is not the case, and the deep pelagic is actually teeming with life. The global picture provided by this new study has led to calls for increased exploration of the Earth's last frontier of biodiversity research.

Dr Tom Webb said: "It's shocking that in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, the largest habitat on Earth remains virtually unexplored. On a more positive note, being able to highlight gaps in our knowledge is an important step towards filling them, and our analysis -- the first at a global scale -- was possible because of the commitment in the marine biodiversity research community to sharing data through initiatives like OBIS."

Dr Ron O'Dor, Senior Scientist with the Census of Marine Life, said: "The Census of Marine Life has invested more than $650M in exploring all of the global ocean realms in the last decade, but we have barely made a dent in this one. One project has provided a look at everything that lives in the water column in the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone in the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge -- just a single piece of a giant puzzle.

"Another project collected plankton with a giant net and doubled the amount of sampling in a single cruise in the North Atlantic. Now we know how to do this, but just need commitment to continue our exploration for the rest of the planet."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas J Webb, Edward Vanden Berghe, Ron O'Dor. Biodiversity's Big Wet Secret: The Global Distribution of Marine Biological Records Reveals Chronic Under-Exploration of the Deep Pelagic Ocean. PLoS ONE, 2010; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010223

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Deep, open ocean is vastly under-explored, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802173708.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2010, August 3). Deep, open ocean is vastly under-explored, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802173708.htm
University of Sheffield. "Deep, open ocean is vastly under-explored, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802173708.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins