Meta Analysis of Papers Classifying Deep Sea Life Shows We Know Very Little

A Desmophyllum dianthus solitary coral. Credit: M Taylor, JC136/Deeplinks/NERC

In a review published in the journal Molecular Ecology, scientists from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University examined all knowledge published to date of deep sea invertebrates. Their paper highlights the disparity between our basic knowledge of the ecology of deep sea animals and the growing impact of humans on the deep ocean.

Over the last 30 years there have only been 77 population genetics studies published on invertebrate species, the type of animals that dominate these deep areas. This includes deep ocean coral gardens, snails and urchins. The majority of these papers, which cover just 115 species, have focused on commercial species at the shallower end of the depth range (200-1000 m). Only one study has been conducted on creatures that live deeper than 5000 m—which accounts for a quarter of the planet’s seafloor. Only nine papers account for 50 percent of the planet’s surface (depths below 3500 m).

As a result, life in the depths of the ocean remains a relative mystery.

Read more about the study at Science X.

You can read the full, open source meta analysis study at Wiley Online:

Invertebrate population genetics across Earth’s largest habitat: The deep-sea floor.” By M.L. Taylor & C.N. Roterman

Juvenile of an unknown species of octopus from 1200m depth on George Bligh Bank off the west coast of Scotland. Credit: JC136/Deeplinks/NERC/Univ of Plymouth / Univ of Oxford
Read more at: Science X


Deep-Sea Corals to Help Replenish Shallow Reefs



The world’s coral reefs are dying at alarming rates. FIU researcher Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty believes deep-sea corals could help replenish their more imperiled, shallow counterparts. That’s because shallow reefs are affected by fishing, pollution, global warming and sunscreen more than deep reefs.

Rodriguez-Lanetty’s research team has built the world’s deepest coral nursery residing at 90 ft. below the ocean surface. Using PVC pipe and fiberglass, they have constructed artificial trees in partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation. Plastic cards dangle from the fiberglass branches where young corals can grow.

These trees were deployed to FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater research lab, off the shores of Islamorada, Florida. NASA astronauts training for the isolated and extreme environments of space at the Aquarius Reef Base planted the trees in 2015.

Since then, FIU scientists and NASA astronauts have regular visits to monitor the progress and maintain the health of the growing corals. It is the first step in finding solutions to one of the oceans’ greatest environmental threats.

Record-Breaking Coral Planting in FL Keys


Members of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) and SCUBAnauts International joined forces with half-a-dozen scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory for a one-day, record-breaking mission on a Florida Keys reef. They planted 500 corals in a day.

The number of corals planted marked the most-ever the groups have planted in a single day since they began working together in 2012. All told, the groups have planted more than 1,600 corals in an area unofficially named “Hero’s Reef” in honor of all current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces.