The Abyssopelagic Zone
of this zone comes from the Greek meaning "no bottom",
and refers to the ancient belief that the open ocean was bottomless.
It extends from 4000m to the sea floor. The only zone deeper
than this is the hadal zone, which includes areas found in deep
sea trenches and canyons. This zone is home to pretty inhospitable
living conditions, which include near- freezing temperatures
and crushing pressures.
This deep water squid is just one of the several squids and octopus that live in this
zone. Note how this one is completely transparent, and has photophores
on it's tentacles to attract food and warn away predators.
stars are just one kind of echinoderm that flourish on the sea
floor. Basket stars sit on the bottom, or attached to tall sessile
animals, with their flexible arms raise above them to catch floating
and falling organic particles. Their arms are quite fragile,
but can regenerate quickly. This specimen has an armspan of over
seapig is a rather grotesque looking relative of the sea cucumber,
another echinoderm. These are one of the most common macroscopic
animals pulled up in bottom dredges. They plow through and eat
mud, digesting the organic particles and bacteria, much like
Sea spiders are relatives
of crustaceans and belong to the class Pycnogonida. They stride
around the ocean bottom on their long legs and suck their meals
out of sessile animals like anemones and some echinoderms with
their tube-like mouth parts. Sea spiders are found at all depths
along the bottom, and range in size from that of a small spider
to over a 30cm leg span. (for more on sea spiders, click here)
large shrimp is another example of a deep sea crustacean, like
the bathyl amphipod. This animal has no eyes, and is coloured
red, both of which are good adaptations for the lightless environment.
They feed on whatever small organic bits and pieces they can.
Any guesses what group
this weird- looking piece of flesh belongs to? Believe it or
not, it's an echinoderm and is classified with sea cucumbers.
The flaps on the right side of the body are wings that enable
this animal to fly through the water at these great depths; a
feat matched by few echinoderms. Another flying echinoderm is
called the swimming cucumber, and looks just as odd its winged
The last animals in
our tour of the deep is this deep sea medusa, a relative of the
jellyfish. It captures prey with its tentacles and digests is
in its central cavity, shown here in red. There are several other
groups of jelly animals that also live at this depth, feeding
on small crustaceans, larva, and whatever organic debris trickling
down from above that hasn't been nabbed in its drop of kilometers.
Back to the Mesopelagic Zone
Back to the Bathypelagic Zone
Back to the Deep Sea Page
to marine biodiversity index