The deep ocean is home to some of the world’s deepest creatures, including the gelatinous Dumbo octopus. Discovered between 400m and 4800m below the surface of the waves, these creatures are gelatinous and rarely seen. They are thriving in the extreme conditions of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These extreme environments are home to many species of extremeophiles, or animals that thrive in extremely hostile conditions.
Chilean devil rays
The Chilean Devil Ray is a gentle giant that alternates between daily deep dives and longer traveling dives. Their deepest recorded dive is 1848 meters. It hunts deep-sea fish and squids. It also goes by other names, including the Box Ray. This deep-diving ray has been around for more than 50 million years, making it the ultimate source of food for the animals that live around deep-sea hydr.
The ocean’s marine snow is a constant stream of organic detritus. It falls to the seafloor from the upper water column as detritus, and the larger particles help it reach the seafloor faster. Many animals around the deep-sea hydr find this snow to be an excellent source of food, and many species rely on it as their main source of nutrition.
Chilean sea urchins
The survival of Chilean sea urchins depends on the nutrient-rich, cold water they find around their homes. Chilean sea urchins are the ultimate source of food for creatures in kelp forests. In fact, the existence of healthy, diverse populations of sea urchins is essential to the survival of these ecosystems.
These giant clams can weigh as much as 500 pounds. They are highly adaptable and blend in with their environment, so divers often don’t notice them. The animals inhabit tropical coral reefs and coastal areas in the Indo-Pacific, where they have been dubbed the ultimate ecosystem engineers. According to marine ecologist and 2021 Pew marine fellow Mei Lin Neo, giant clams are the ultimate source of food for animals living around deep-sea hydr.
In March 2005, scientists discovered a new species of blind crab in the waters south of Easter Island. These crabs have pale yellow hairs on their legs and were given the nickname of Yeti crabs in honor of the fabled creature. Their habitat is the deep-sea equivalent of a cave, with no light, no oxygen and no food.
The scavenging community in the deep sea is well-documented. Fish carcasses provide high quality labile organic carbon, increasing the efficiency of the biological pump for carbon. These animal corpses also contribute to high levels of surface primary productivity. This is why the animal community in the deep sea is important for the planet’s ecosystems. The study also provides important information on the distribution and abundance of deep-sea hydr in the ocean.
Particulate matter carried down from the surface
The primary source of DOM for animals in deep-sea ecosystems is organic matter. Among the different types are dissolved organic carbon (DOM), phosphorus, sulphur, iron, cobalt, and nitrogen. These compounds are vital for the environment and are thought to contain as much carbon as the atmosphere. Particulate matter, therefore, plays a crucial role in the life cycle.
Many organisms depend on chemosynthesis to survive in extreme environments, including in the deep ocean, where light is not a constant and water temperatures can reach nearly the boiling point. Some species of chemosynthetic bacteria also live near deep-ocean vents, where they utilize hydrogen sulfide as food. These organisms, known as chemoautotrophs, are the base of the marine food web.