There are regions on Earth about which very little is known. However, these regions occupy 60% of the surface of the crust of our planet. We are talking about the Abyssal Kingdom or abyssal zone, which is the deepest layer of the oceans. That is, where the bottom of the sea is located.
The Abyssal Realm is a region very little investigated by the scientific world so far
These abyssal regions have extreme pressure conditions, although they are rich in marine life. A study involving scientists from eight countries is trying to unravel the mystery of these depths.
The group conducted DNA analysis of water and sediments in the deep ocean. It is the largest analysis conducted to date. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Science Advances. As a result, it revealed that the species that have their habitat in the deep ocean are all new to science.
Some characteristics of this ecosystem
The Abyssal zone or Abyssal Kingdom is any oceanic region whose depth is more than 4000 meters. It is the last frontier between the known and the unknown by man. According to scientists, the crust of the Moon and Mars are fully mapped. On the other hand, only 20% of the ocean floor has been properly mapped to date.
Also the abyssal zone has its limit, which goes down to 6000 meters depth. Beyond 6000 meters, it is called the hadal zone. In most of the oceans, the depth of the seafloor is between 4000 and 5500 meters. However, there are marine trenches where the depths can reach up to 10,000 and 15,000 meters. These extreme depths occupy only 5 to 6% of the earth’s crust.
The pressure in the abyssal realm is very strong. Between 500 and 600 atmospheres of pressure, which means nothing less than 500 to 600 times greater than the pressure at the earth’s surface. In addition, the water temperature is about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. And to add another drawback, the light does not reach there.
The fauna is unknown and there is no vegetation
However, the fauna is varied in the abyssal zone. Tiny organisms and fish of different species coexist. What the study revealed is that life is much more diverse than previously known. Moreover, at such depths and without light, photosynthesis is not possible.
In the absence of marine vegetation, organisms feed on what falls to the depths. Remains of algae and zooplankton fall like marine snow at these depths. Although only 5% of that zooplankton reaches the extreme depths, the rest is consumed further “up”.
Scientists from several countries join forces to study the area
The study was made possible by a large international effort, whereby they carried out 15 expeditions. Seventeen hundred water and sediment samples were analyzed, as well as two billion DNA sequences. Nearly two-thirds of the diversity found does not correspond to any group identified to date. The detail of the German oceanographic ship used deserves a separate article.
Scientists warn that this ecosystem must be taken care of. With such low temperatures and no light, life processes there are much slower. Damage to this ecosystem would take centuries to recover. However, the projects of the great powers to carry out marine mining, puts at risk all underwater life, including that of that area.