The Mariana Trench

The Mariana Trench - Biology (cont.)

A Closer Look at Life in the Trench

We have mentioned that the creatures which inhabit the Mariana Trench are all uniquely designed to survive in its extreme environment, but contrary to what one might readily assume, these life forms are not the result of evolution and adaptability - Quite the contrary, they are perhaps the most prehistoric life forms on the planet, some species, such as the Indians Ocean's deep-sea dweller the Coelacanth which has remained unchanged for millions of years.

There is much to learn about the origins of life on the planet by studying the denizens of the deep.

While plants and other organisms on the planet's surface convert water, minerals and carbon dioxide into nutrients by gathering light in their pigments through the process of photosynthesis, the plants and microorganisms of the deep use a process called chemosynthesis to convert the chemically rich discharge of hydrothermal vents into food.

Hydrothermal vents, also called "black smokers" are chimney like undersea geysers which spew out sea water which has seeped in and come in contact  with the hot volcanic core.  The discharge of hydrothermal vents is a black smoke which contains a variety of chemicals and dissolved metals, which are then consumed or processed by the microorganisms, animals, and plants.   Vents which have been active for a long period grow to resemble chimneys; some of them reaching heights of over 15 meters (49 feet).

As we have mentioned before, certain deep-sea animals feature bioluminescent appendages and features which serve a wide variety of purposes, from mating to self-preservation, and even hunting, as is the case with the Angler Fish.  Bioluminescence is light generated by a living organism as the result of an internal chemical reaction.   The only surface animal which features this ability is the Pyractomena borealis, also known as the Firefly.

 

Relevant Links

World Biomes: Aquatic

Extinct Animal: The Coelacanth

Creatures of the Deep: Hidden Depths

 

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Fact Finder


The deep sea represents 80% of the biosphere, which makes it the largest habitat for creatures on the planet Earth.

 

creatures from the deep show an incredible resistance to temperature extremes by having different proteins which are adapted for life under these conditions.

 

At a depth of 150 meters (approx. 500 feet), there is little if any light left, and colors are no longer visible to the human eye.

 


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