The Open Ocean
Peering over the sides of a ship steaming over its surface, it might appear that the open ocean is one big, boundary-free expanse of water, its wildlife swimming back and forth, from surface to depths, without constraint. But Census of Marine Life researchers found that, although many areas of the open ocean may look equal, to marine animals there are clear differences.
The researchers found, for example, that white sharks congregate in an area off Hawaii that scientists dubbed the “white shark café”, and that several species of turtles, seabirds, seals, whales and sharks all congregate at ‘hotspots’ such as in the California Current.
The top 100 meters of the ocean is the zone within which most of the life with which we are instantly familiar – most of the fish, turtles, and marine mammals, as well as the microscopic plant and animal plankton that forms such an important part of the marine food web – primarily resides. Much deeper than that, and sunlight struggles to penetrate. Six hundred meters deep, sunlight in the ocean is as bright as starlight on the surface; at 693 meters it is approximately ten-billionth its surface brightness; and by 1,000 meters, the sea is completely dark.
And yet, even here, there is life.
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