The Deep Sea
Read our in-depth write-ups about the environment, ecosystems, adaptations, and discoveries related to the deep sea. Individual animal profiles can be found by clicking 'fact files' in the menu above.
Life at Cold Seeps
Cold seeps are areas of the ocean floor where hydrogen sulphide, methane, and other hydrocarbon-rich seepage occurs. Through a number of process, the chemicals support a biome of highly specialised creatures that live around these cold seeps.
The Open Ocean
The open ocean is an entirely different world to the benthic zone of the sea floor. The endless blue stretches away in all directions, while the black abyss hangs gaping below. Currents are stronger here. There is no shelter to be found, and food is hard to come by.
The Deep Sea Floor
Deep sea life must choose whether to live on the bottom at the benthic zone, or to brave the expansive open ocean of the pelagic midwater zone. These two groups of organisms could not be more different, but which is a more effective way of life?
Deep Sea Coral Reefs represent areas of astounding biodiversity. Lush cold water coral and sponge gardens thrive in the icy waters. An expanse of colourful coral structures blooming out of the sea floor, providing important habitats for deep-dwelling life.
Deep Sea Food Web
The exact nature of the deep sea food web is still not fully understood, but advancements in technology and research in recent years have granted us a greater understanding of how these separate settlements of life are interconnected as one. Let’s take a closer look at the food web of the deep sea.
Deep Sea Symbiosis
Nowhere on Earth are creatures more uniquely adapted to relying on others than in the deep sea - a world of darkness, cold, and intense pressure. Let’s dive in, and take a closer look at the incredible role of symbiosis in the deep sea ecosystem.
Bioluminescence in the deep sea is a natural phenomenon present in many deep dwelling species. The twinkling, flashing, pulsating lights are the result of a chemical reaction that produces light energy within the body of an organism.
Plastic in the Ocean
The main threats seen in our oceans are species loss, habitat degradation, and changes in ecosystem function. Human activities causing a rise in extinction rates has lead to a decrease in biodiversity, particularly in coral reefs, 88% of which are threatened by excessive CO2 emissions.
Brine Pools in the deep sea appear to be biological dead-zones in the ocean, and yet an astounding abundance of ocean life can be found lining the shores of these toxic lakes. Mussels, hagfish, crabs and even sharks frequent these isolated hotspots to hunt.
Occasionally, a whale carcass will sink to the seabed, where it will support a complex biological community for up to 50 years. Deep sea creatures gather here to make the most of the concentrated store of nutrients, from giant sharks to tiny but fascinating bacteria.
In the deep sea, no energy is produced by photosynthesis. Instead, chemosynthetic bacteria have adapted to convert the chemicals expelled by deep sea vents into the energy needed for life to flourish.
Creatures of the deep sea seem to follow a certain trend; many of them appear far larger than their relatives from the shallows, and exhibit a phenomenon known as Abyssal Gigantism.
Deep Sea Discovery
As a species, we are driven by a desire to understand and make sense of the universe around us. We have landed people on the moon and sent probes into deep space to uncover the secrets of the cosmos. Despite all this, we still have explored just 5% of Earth’s oceans.