Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean

Date:
July 11, 2013
Source:
Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Summary:
In 2009 and 2010, the underwater neutrino telescope ANTARES detected an unusual phenomenon: the bioluminescence of deep-sea organisms suddenly increased, revealing an unexpected connection between biological activity -- bioluminescence -- and the motion of water masses in the deep ocean. Convective motion in the Gulf of Lion provides deep waters with oxygen and nutrients that boost biological activity.

The North-West Mediterranean Sea is the best region to study dense water formation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universidad de Barcelona

In 2009 and 2010, the underwater neutrino telescope ANTARES detected an unusual phenomenon: the bioluminescence of deep-sea organisms suddenly increased, revealing an unexpected connection between biological activity -- bioluminescence -- and the motion of water masses in the deep ocean. Convective motion in the Gulf of Lion provides deep waters with oxygen and nutrients that boost biological activity.

Related Articles


Published July 10 in PLoS ONE, the work was carried out by a team coordinated by CNRS researchers from the Institut Méditerranéen d'Océanographie (CNRS / IRD / Aix-Marseille Université / Université du Sud Toulon-Var) and the Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université).

Located off the coast of Toulon, the purpose of the ANTARES telescope is to detect very high energy cosmic neutrinos (1). These particles rarely interact with matter. However, when one of them strikes a water molecule, it can produce a charged particle called a muon, which emits photons as it moves. This is the radiation that is detected by the 900 ANTARES photomultipliers at a depth of 2,400 meters.

The deep sea is not as dark as might be supposed: 90% of deep-sea organisms are able to emit light, which plays a role in many ecological interactions such as prey attraction or reproduction-related behavior. Deep-sea bacteria, whether free, in symbiosis with animals or attached to suspended particles, are able to emit light continuously and are adapted to their environment, as shown by Christian Tamburini and colleagues in another article published last June (2).

Such bioluminescence did not adversely affect the ANTARES mission. However, two episodes between March and July in 2009 and 2010 literally dazzled the telescope. The background light intensity measured by the detector, which is usually in the range 40 to 100 kHz, suddenly soared to 9 000 kHz. This peak in bioluminescence coincided with an increase in water temperature and salinity. This enabled the researchers to establish a link between bioluminescence and convective motion in the Gulf of Lion.

During especially cold, dry winters, the temperature of surface waters in the Gulf of Lion falls, while their salinity increases due to evaporation. As a result, these water masses become denser than those underlying them, and they sink. This motion, known as convection, is a well-known phenomenon. These surface waters are rich in oxygen and nutrients. When they sink, they provide deep waters with resources that boost biological activity. It is this bloom of biological activity that ANTARES unexpectedly detected.

The researchers believe that measuring bioluminescence could become the best way of continuously monitoring biological activity in the deep sea. It would shed light on the impact of the motion of water masses and ocean circulation on living organisms. This is all the more important as phenomena such as deep water convection are likely to decline significantly over the coming century due to global warming. This decline will have a major impact on deep-sea ecosystems, which will be deprived of this input of nutrients and oxygen. The researchers now intend to determine the as-yet-unidentified light-emitting organisms detected by ANTARES, and develop instrumentation to measure bioluminescence both continuously and autonomously.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christian Tamburini et al. Deep-Sea Bioluminescence Blooms after Dense Water Formation at the Ocean Surface. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (7): e67523 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067523

Cite This Page:

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). "Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711084514.htm>.
Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). (2013, July 11). Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711084514.htm
Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). "Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711084514.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

AFP (Apr. 21, 2015) — As money runs out at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, around 85 chimps are facing homelessness. The centre closed when the Ebola epidemic was ravaging the country but now that closure is beginning to look permanent. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blue Bell Recalls All Products

Blue Bell Recalls All Products

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) — Blue Bell Creameries voluntary recalled for all of its products after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria. Blue Bell&apos;s President and CEO issued a video statement. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) — Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) — On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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