Discovering the Ocean Twilight Zone with Joel Llopiz

Most life forms in the twilight zone are tiny—a few inches or less—but even the smallest twilight zone inhabitants are powerful through sheer number. Joel Llopiz, Associate Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, is part of the Ocean Twilight Zone (OTZ) project. The project is embarking on a bold new journey to explore one of our planet’s hidden frontiers—the ocean twilight zone, a vast, globe-spanning, and dimly lit region between about 200 and 1,000 meters beneath the ocean’s surface. Understanding of the twilight zone is currently limited by its enormous size and lack of easy access. Several members of the OTZ project team conducted an expedition aboard OceanX’s research vessel, the M/V Alucia, out of the Bahamas in spring of 2019. The main goal of the expedition was to examine how the OTZ project site off the coast of New England differs from this distant –yet connected– region of the twilight zone. Going to different areas is critical to help us understand how abundance and types of organisms change geographically. Even from onboard observations, it was clear that this area has far fewer organisms than off the more nutrient-rich waters of New England. The team worked closely with OceanX to share their journey through video diaries and photographs of the extraordinary creatures brought on board throughout the cruise. The Ocean Twilight Zone is supported the Audacious Project, a collaborative endeavor, housed at TED, to surface and fund ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale.