Deep sea community

Giant tube worms
Asterechinus elegans
Pelagic zones
Location of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench
NOAA rendering of a brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico
Most mesopelagic fish are ambush predators with upward-facing eyes, like this sabertooth fish.
Gulper eels use their mouth like a net to catch prey, and have a bioluminescent tail to attract prey.
Giant tube worms chemosynthesize near hydrothermal vents
Wood fall as an energy source.
hydrothermal vent

Any community of organisms associated by a shared habitat in the deep sea.

- Deep sea community

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Bottom of the ocean.

Map showing the underwater topography (bathymetry) of the ocean floor. Like land terrain, the ocean floor has mountains including volcanoes, ridges, valleys, and plains.
The major oceanic divisions
Total sediment thickness of the world's oceans and continental margins in meters.
Satellite image of wind-blown mineral dust over the Atlantic. Dust may become terrigenous sediment on the seabed.
Phytoplankton grow shells which later sink to the seabed to become biogenous sediments. For example, diatoms make silicate shells, which become siliceous ooze.
Hydrothermal vent fluids cause chemical reactions that precipitate out minerals that form sediments on the surrounding seafloor.
Sediment types from the Southern Ocean showing many different grain sizes: A) gravel and sand, B) gravel, C) bioturbated mud and sand, and D) laminated clays and silts.
Map of underwater topography (1995 NOAA)
Layers of the pelagic zone
gravel seabed in Italy
white sand seabed in Mexico
sand seabed in Greece
hydrothermal vents

Large deep sea communities of marine life have been discovered around black and white smokers — vents emitting chemicals toxic to humans and most vertebrates.

Kaikō ROV

Remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) built by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) for exploration of the deep sea.

Location of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench
RV Kairei
RV Kairei Control Room
The launcher for Kaikō ROV.
Kaikō reached a maximum depth of 10,911.4 meters at the Challenger Deep on 24 March 1995, during its initial sea trials. At that time, the craft collected video and photographs of various barophilic benthos, including tubeworms and shrimp.
ROV in position under its launcher, aboard the deep sea research ship RV Kairei.
Hirondellea gigas specimen at Shin-Enoshima Aquarium, Enoshima Island, Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan.

In August 2000, Kaikō discovered hydrothermal vents and their associated deep sea communities at a depth of 2,450 meters near the Central Indian Ridge.


Extinct species of mackerel shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago (Mya), from the Early Miocene to the Pliocene epochs.

The depiction of a shark's head by Nicolas Steno in his work The Head of a Shark Dissected
Diagram of the chronospecies evolution of megalodon
Megalodon tooth with two great white shark teeth
The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and megalodon were previously thought to be close relatives.
Restoration assuming a similarity in appearance to the great white shark
Sculpture in the Museum of Evolution in Puebla, Mexico
Reconstruction showing the position of the replacement teeth
Reconstructed jaws on display at the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Reconstructed megalodon skeleton on display at the Calvert Marine Museum
Coprolite attributed to megalodon
Vertebra of a whale bitten in half by a megalodon with visible gashes from teeth
Megalodon may have faced competition from macroraptorial sperm whales, such as Livyatan (above).
Artistic impression of a megalodon pursuing two Eobalaenoptera whales
Collection of teeth of juvenile megalodon and C. chubutensis from a probable nursery area in the Gatún Formation of Panama
Megalodon may have become coextinct with smaller baleen whale species, such as Piscobalaena nana.
discovered megalodon teeth which were erroneously dated to be around 11,000 to 24,000 years old.

The claims that megalodon could remain elusive in the depths, similar to the megamouth shark which was discovered in 1976, are unlikely as the shark lived in warm coastal waters and probably could not survive in the cold and nutrient-poor deep sea environment.

Abyssal plain

Underwater plain on the deep ocean floor, usually found at depths between 3000 m and 6000 m. Lying generally between the foot of a continental rise and a mid-ocean ridge, abyssal plains cover more than 50% of the Earth's surface.

Diagrammatic cross-section of an oceanic basin, showing the relationship of the abyssal plain to a continental rise and an oceanic trench
Depiction of the abyssal zone in relation to other major oceanic zones
Pelagic zones
Oceanic crust is formed at a mid-ocean ridge, while the lithosphere is subducted back into the asthenosphere at oceanic trenches
Age of oceanic crust (red is youngest, and blue is oldest)
Location of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench
In this phase diagram, the green dotted line illustrates the anomalous behavior of water. The solid green line marks the melting point and the blue line the boiling point, showing how they vary with pressure.
Tubeworms and soft corals at a cold seep 3000 meters deep on the Florida Escarpment. Eelpouts, a galatheid crab, and an alvinocarid shrimp are feeding on chemosynthetic mytilid mussels.

Limited knowledge of the taxonomy, biogeography and natural history of deep sea communities prevents accurate assessment of the risk of species extinctions from large-scale mining.

Deep sea mining

Growing subfield of experimental seabed mining that involves the retrieval of minerals and deposits from the ocean floor found at depths of 200 meters or greater.

Deep sea mining
Example of manganese nodule that can be found on the sea floor

Many opponents to deep sea mining efforts point to the threats of grave and irreversible damage it could cause to fragile deep sea ecosystems.

Outline of fishing

Provided as an overview of and topical guide to fishing:

Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. This is an example of a hierarchy visualized with a triangle diagram. The hierarchical aspect represented here is that needs at lower levels of the pyramid are considered more basic and must be fulfilled before higher ones are met.

Deep sea communities – Deep sea communities currently remain largely unexplored, due to the technological and logististical challenges and expense involved in visiting these remote biomes.


Extinct genus of toothed whale in the sperm whale family with one species, B. shigensis.

Reconstructed skeleton in side view
Brygmophyseter compared to a diver
Raptorial sperm whales like Brygmophyseter occupied a niche similar to the modern-day killer whale (Orcinus orca).

The formation also had fossil bivalves which indicate the presence of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and there is also evidence of prehistoric cold vents in the area, which today host chemosynthetic specialist species; the formation was likely 1000 – deep in the Miocene.

Refuge (ecology)

Concept in ecology, in which an organism obtains protection from predation by hiding in an area where it is inaccessible or cannot easily be found.

Biodiverse coral reef community

The largest such migration by biomass is the oceans' diel vertical migration, in which vast quantities of organisms hide in the lightless depths of the open ocean, arising after dark to consume phytoplankton.

Environmental effects of mining

Environmental effects of mining can occur at local, regional, and global scales through direct and indirect mining practices.

Acid mine drainage in Portugal
The Ok Tedi River is contaminated by tailings from a nearby mine.
Contaminated Osisko lake in Rouyn-Noranda
Malartic mine - Osisko
Lithium mining at Salar del Hombre Muerto, Argentina.
A limestone karst on Nauru Island influenced by phosphate mining.

Deep sea mining for manganese nodules and other resources have led to concerns from marine scientists and environmental groups over the impact on fragile deep sea ecosystems.

Biogeography of Deep-Water Chemosynthetic Ecosystems

Field project of the Census of Marine Life programme .

The main aim of ChEss is to determine the biogeography of deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems at a global scale and to understand the processes driving these ecosystems.