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Satellites help understand what fuels the twilight zone

27 September 2016

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The deep, dark twilight zone a kilometre down in the ocean is home to most of the world's fish, but how they get enough food has largely been a mystery. Now, thanks to satellites and floating sensors, scientists have worked out how much energy is being pumped to the depths.

The 'mesopelagic region' is between 100 m and 1000 m below the surface and sustains one of the largest ecosystems on the planet. Sometimes called the twilight zone, because very little light penetrates this far, it remains vastly unexplored and poorly understood.

It was thought that this ecosystem is fed by a 'rain' of fast-sinking organic aggregates of dead plankton and waste products from organisms that live near the surface.

While this source of organic carbon is very important, marine scientists have come to realise that it simply is not enough to support the vast numbers and variety of organisms that live in this deep layer of the ocean.

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