Much of the shark focus around the Cape is on great whites roaming close to the shoreline as they prowl for seals, but researchers are finding out that several sharks are actually diving deep into the twilight zone out in the middle of the ocean. Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod are researching the sharks’ deep diving behavior and how sharks’ bodies have evolved to handle these deeper conditions. They’re learning that deep diving is far more frequent and extensive across species than previously thought, said Simon Thorrold, a senior scientist in the biology department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
A difficult area to study and often overlooked by science, new technology is aiding its exploration, forcing researchers to re-evaluate just how much life is down there. Researchers now believe there is 10 times, maybe 100 times the biomass previously thought, says Heidi Sosik, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
Mesobot looks like a giant yellow-and-black AirPods case, only it’s rather more waterproof and weighs 550 pounds. It can operate with a fiber-optic tether attached to a research vessel at the surface, or it can swim around freely.
Dive with us into the ocean twilight zone—the weirdest place on Earth. This vast, dark, barely explored layer of the ocean is home to countless weirdly wonderful creatures whose uniqueness also gives them superpowers to survive in a world of darkness, extreme pressure, frigid cold, and superpowered predators. The twilight zone is a place of wonder, mystery, and abundance that reminds us our choices mean the difference between a future of loss and sustainability.Read More
In May 2021, members of WHOI’s Ocean Twilight Zone project braved the rough seas of the Northeast Atlantic aboard the Spanish research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa. Their mission: locate the spring phytoplankton bloom and measure how carbon moves through the mysterious mid-ocean “twilight zone.”
The Sarmiento joined two other research vessels funded by NASA’s EXPORTS program to intensively study the area. This remarkable and rare coordination of 150 scientists from several organizations, and crew on three different ships, was years in the making.
Watch as the WHOI research team, led by Ken Buesseler and Heidi Sosik, deploys innovative new imaging technologies and hauls up hundreds of fascinating specimens from the deep sea. Along the way, you’ll gain an endless appreciation for the vast, weird, and wonderful ocean twilight zone – without getting wet.Read More
Much of the science focuses on the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle. Through chemical and biological processes, the ocean removes as much carbon from the atmosphere as all plant life on land.
“It’s been called the greatest migration on Earth,” says Annette Govindarajan, a WHOI oceanographer who also does twilight zone research.
A new observation network under development by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will offer round-the-clock data about the ocean twilight zone – a dimly lit region roughly 200–1000 meters (650–3200 feet) below the surface, containing the largest amount of fish biomass on Earth.Read More
Traditional methods, which include trawling and baited cameras, can only offer snapshots of the complex deep-ocean world, says Elizabeth Allan, a postdoctoral investigator at WHOI who works on the Institute’s ocean twilight zone project.
“All the vehicles on the road in the United States produce around 1.5 PgC per year,” says Kevin Archibald, a biological oceanographer at WHOI and lead author of that study. DVM could be understood as offsetting about two-thirds of all U.S. automobile emissions.
This Earth Day, join us for the YouTube premiere of A Window into the Twilight Zone, (26 minutes), a film…Read More
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution oceanographer Andone Lavery and her team of scientists and engineers have created the ultimate tool for exploring the largest, least known habitat on Earth—the Twilight Zone, a layer of the ocean beyond all but the dimmest sunlight. What they find might change our understanding of deep-ocean life.Read More
Scientists have long known that the ocean plays an essential role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, but a study from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that the efficiency of the ocean’s “biological carbon pump” has been drastically underestimated, with implications for future climate assessments. Marine chemist Ken Buesseler and his co-authors call on their fellow oceanographers to adopt a new metric for estimating the depth of the ocean’s sunlit layer, thus its ability to take up carbon.Read More
This hyperiid amphipod is a member of the crustacean family that typically act as parasites to gelatinous neighbors, such as salps. This particular suborder lives exclusively in the marine environment. Paul Caiger, who snapped the picture, saw this particular shrimp-like species during an ocean twilight zone research cruise on R/V Neil Armstrong (2020).Read More
You’re on deck as the stealthy underwater robot Mesobot makes another trip into the ocean twilight zone to test equipment that will help scientists track bits of “environmental DNA” floating in the water.Read More
The mysteries of the ocean twilight zone are waiting to be explored. What was once thought to be desert-like isn’t a desert at all. Where the deep sea creatures lurk there are incredible biomass and biodiversity. The ocean twilight zone is a huge habitat that is very difficult to explore. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is poised to change this because we have the engineers that can help us overcome these challenges. Making new discoveries in ocean exploration is more important now than ever.Read More
A new report from researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals for the first time the unseen—and somewhat surprising—benefits that people receive from the ocean’s twilight zone. Also known as the “mesopelagic,” this is the ocean layer just beyond the sunlit surface.Read More
How does the ocean twilight zone benefit life on Earth? The ocean twilight zone helps regulates our climate. Storing two to six billion tons of carbon annually. That’s up to six times the amount of carbon emitted from autos worldwide. Preventing an increase in temperature between 6-11°F. The ocean twilight zone supports a healthy ocean ecosystem. Containing 10 times more fish than the rest of the ocean. Providing food for many other animals in the ocean. The ocean twilight zone could also play an important role in feeding a growing population. We are working to better understand this realm in order to inform sustainable management decisions.Read More