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The deep-sea and zooplanktons

Almost 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Around 60 per cent of it is covered by water over 1,600 meters deep and nearly half the world’s marine waters are over 3,000 meters deep. The deep-sea region starts from around 200m below the surface of the ocean. Here, the sunlight begins to fade and we go deeper a twilight zone is reached which extends down to 1,000 meters. Beyond this, almost no light penetrates through, and the pressure from the water above is tremendous. In this region, survival is difficult, and due to this, organisms either have to adapt to survive without light or possess bioluminescent characteristics. Due to this, only free microorganisms like specific phytoplankton and algae represent the plant-like life in this region.

 

There are other species of phytoplankton that are largely dependent on sunlight for survival. Such phytoplanktons are fed on by zooplankton. Zooplanktons (animal-like) are in turn fed on by several other creatures ranging from fish, marine mammals to sea birds. Zooplanktons range from small microorganisms to bigger ones like jellyfish and krill. Due to the multiple food chains that begin from zooplankton, they are believed to be the foundation of the marine food chain. Hence, experts believe that by understanding zooplankton, we could make huge progress in understanding marine life better.

 

However, traditional marine expedition methods aren’t very fruitful in this case. Most research vessels produce light pollution or artificial light, and this alters the zooplanktons’ natural behaviour. This is where the Jetyak plays a crucial role. Developed by Hanumant Singh, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University, it is an autonomous vehicle that is shaped like a kayak and includes a gas-powered engine. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used a Jetyak to collect data from deep seas. This data helped them deduce that found that zooplankton hides from artificial light. They, therefore, concluded that scientists couldn’t use traditional vessels to examine these organisms’ natural rhythms in the deep-sea.

 

Harman Singh