Scientists say life thrives on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. However, we imagine that there should be something as the nice creatures similar to the ones shown during the Disney cartoon movie about the Little Mermaid. However, the reality is not that romantic. Many species of microorganisms thrive in the depths of the oceans that are difficult to see, but at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean some filamentous bacteria form huge white carpets that are as big as Greece in area.
Millions of Species of Microorganisms
The study, carried out as part of a decade-long Census of Marine Life project, found many previously unknown microorganisms, small zooplankton organisms, crustaceans, worms, fish, and other organisms. Some of them look like creatures from science fiction movies, but the whole life of the oceans depends heavily on these organisms. No other realm of ocean life has been explored in more depth during the research than the microbial world.
The researchers found that the number of unicellular microorganisms in the oceans are reaching quintillion (a number with 30 zeros) and weigh a total of 240 billion African elephants, the largest terrestrial animal. More research into the world of micro-organisms, which account for 50-90% of the ocean biomass, provides a better understanding of possible changes in the oceans due to climate change or pollution.
One of the largest living formations in the world is the giant carpet of bacterial colonies that cover the ocean floor, made up of spaghetti-like fibers. Such bacteria feed on hydrogen sulfide and live in the low-oxygen Pacific waters off the coasts of Peru and Chile. Fishermen are sometimes unable to pull nets out of the bottom because they contain more bacteria than shrimp. In the study, scientists sometimes found up to a kilogram of microorganisms per square meter.
According to the researchers, these bacteria have covered an area of about 130 thousand square kilometers. these microorganisms are poisonous to humans, but they are fed by shrimp and worms that feed many Pacific fish. Similar bacteria have been found in low-oxygen waters near Panama, Ecuador, Namibia and Mexico, as well as in the “death zones” of some salmon farms. Such ecosystems flourished on Earth 2.5 billion years ago and were still prevalent 650 million years ago. About a billion species of microorganisms were registered during the Marine Life Census.
These tiny creatures are found everywhere: in deep hot springs with temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius, as well as in rocks up to 1626 meters below the ocean bottom. The names of many of these organisms have not yet been developed or are difficult to pronounce. One of the important discoveries is that some rare species of microorganisms are often more frequent in numbers up to 10000 times. It is likely that these sparse organisms wait a long time for favorable conditions when population flourishing can occur. Scientists say the ocean organisms in this project have been poorly studied. 70% of the oceans are deeper than 1000 meters, and greater depths are a source of hidden diversity.