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15 : Dark Life at Deep-Sea Vents : 2014

From the seashore to the deepest depths, oceans are home to some of the most diverse life on Earth. There are big animals and little ones; long and short ones, multicolored and drab ones, and those that just sit while others that never stop swimming. There are even some organisms that light up.

Deep sea ecology: hydrothermal vents and cold seeps | WWF

There are two general types of plants found in the ocean, those having roots that are attached to the ocean bottom and those not having roots which simply drift about with the water. The rooted plants in the ocean are only found in shallow water because there is not enough sunlight to sustain photosynthesis in deeper waters. Since sunlight does not penetrate more than a few hundred feet into the ocean, most of the ocean is not capable of supporting rooted plants. Nevertheless, plants are found throughout most of the oceanic surface waters.

What types of plants live in the deep sea

From the seashore to the deepest depths, oceans are home to some of the most diverse life on Earth

Deep-sea chemosynthetic bacteria are attracting the attention of a wide range of scientists interested in their commercial potential. Biochemists intrigued by the ability of these tiny, delicate looking creatures to turn toxic chemicals into harmless compounds, hope to use such bacteria to clean up hazardous waste. Chemists seek to isolate the enzymes that allow chemosynthetic microbes to function under extremely high temperatures and put them to industrial use.

In a broad chemical sense, the opposite of photosynthesis isrespiration. Most of life on this planet (all except in the deepsea vents) depends on the reciprocal photosynthesis-drivenproduction of carbon containing compounds by a series of reducing(adding electrons) chemical reactions carried out by plants andthen the opposite process of oxidative (removing electrons)chemical reactions by animals (and plants, which are capable ofboth photosynthesis and respiration) in which these carboncompounds are broken down to carbon dioxide and water.

Life In The Dark - The Mysteries of the Deep Sea Biome

Zones of the Deep Sea; Where Are They

Just a few decades ago, submersibles and remote sensing technologies allowed scientists to visit the farthest reaches of the ocean for the very first time. Of the many wonders they discovered, one of the most surprising was the existence of rich clusters of life flourishing in the darkness of the deep sea floor. The inner workings of these ecosystems have proved to be as unusual as their location, for they are powered not by the light of the sun but by the heat of the earth.

At the heart of these deep-sea communities is a process called chemosynthesis. Chemosynthesis is the use of energy released by inorganic chemical reactions to produce food. It is analogous to the more familiar process of photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, plants grow in sunlight, capturing solar energy to make organic matter. In chemosynthesis, bacteria grow in mineral-rich water, harnessing chemical energy to make organic material. Chemosynthesis can sustain life in absolute darkness.

Life In The Dark; Sources; Plants and Animals of the Deep Sea
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The Deep Sea ~ Ocean biology, Marine life, Sea …

Apart from hydrogen sulfide, vent water also contains poisonous heavy metals and is more acidic than vinegar. Biologists still don't know exactly how vent animals survive in these conditions.

Unique biodiversity
More than 300 species have so far been identified in deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems, of which over 95% are new to science. Many are restricted to a particular vent field, making each ecosystem unique. On average, a new vent species has been discovered every 10 days since vent ecosystems were first discovered in 1977.

And ancient too
Amazingly, vent life has changed little over time. A whole new domain of life was discovered in vent ecosystems - Archaea, an ancient form of life most closely related to the first life on Earth.

Other vent life also appears to be more closely related to ancient animals than to animals living closer to the ocean's surface. Indeed, vent animals on opposite sites of the globe are more closely related to each other than to those living outside the vent ecosystem, just a few metres away.

Some researchers have speculated that life began in extreme environments similar to hydrothermal vents. Others have even suggested that if these environments exist on other planets, then life might very well exist there too.

Deep sea ecology: hydrothermal vents and cold seeps | …

The sea is home to billions of plants and animals. Many live only near the sunlit surface. Here you'll find everything from microscopic plankton to the giant blue whale. Oceanographers classify marine organisms by separating them into two primary groups: plants and animals.

leaving the deep-sea floor as dark as the deepest cave

Sunlight penetrates this zone which facilitates the process of photosynthesis.

Supported Plant Species: Seaweed or free-floating algae, red algae, green algae, brown algae, phytoplankton, angiosperms, mangroves, seagrass.

Supported Animal Species: Bigeye tuna, dolphin, orcas, blue whales, sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles.

bioluminescent signalling in the deep sea

Due to cold and shortage of nutrients, very few species exist in this zone.

Supported Plant Species: No plants exist in this zone due to lack of light.

Supported Animal Species: Deep-sea anglerfish, giant squid, black swallower.

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