Life In Deep Ocean
As there are different kinds of species on land, so are there in the ocean. On land, you will find a variety of species; from Homo sapiens to bacteria. In the sea, so are there different kinds of species; from the whales to the microbes. In both worlds however, there is a thin line of representation for those rather unpopular species that might be existing in the far ends. That is if at all there are any. And in the case of the ocean, you must be thinking about depth.
You agree it would be difficult to believe anyone who claims to be born and bred in the planet Antarctica where the weather reaches -100⁰ Celsius. In the same vein, it would be rather hard to believe whoever claims there is life as deep as 1170 metres into the ocean where the temperature reaches 120⁰ Celsius. Well, the discovery here will surely surprise you.
On the surface of mother Earth, water boils maximally at 100⁰ Celsius, and a recent discovery revealed that there are some sediment dwelling living organisms that survive at 120⁰ Celsius. At first, this is news to many, even Marine experts. So, further research expeditions were conducted.
For a fact, below the seafloor, microbial diversity is even discovered to be as rich as it is on Earth. At a temperature of 45⁰ Celsius, the population of microbial density collapsed – only for its cells and its own activity to be detected in deeper and hotter zones of about 120⁰ Celsius.
Researchers of course went as deep as 1180 metres into the ocean drilling to discover not less than 40,000 distinguishable microorganisms. This was gathered from 40 different sites all over the globe. You must be wondering how they were sure what they saw were living organisms. But the answer to that is quite simple. A hack to identifying life is to find any evidence of metabolism.
These organisms do not exist and survive by some sheer magical spell. They also go through the normal living process. They use organic materials available in sediments to keep themselves alive. This discovery points at the fact that a habitable sediment can as well be a deep one. And these deep sediments are sometimes found in the least imaginable places.
Although, sediment habitats that are deep below in the seafloor are often referred to as harsh habitats. And rightly so. Deep below in the ocean, energy supply increasingly becomes scarce. In spite of these conditions however, there are some microorganisms that are discovered to inhabit the depth of the oceans by several kilometres.
This low-energy deep biosphere still remains a mystery anyway. A better understanding will set in when one becomes aware of life limits. And the factors that determine them.
The technology needed to examine the various samples collected during research on the moon took quite a number of years to be developed. The patience exercised might have to be repeated to examine the samples that come out from the deeper most part of the ocean sediments.
Similar to the search in the Outer Space for life, determining the limits of life on Earth is an agenda distressed with huge technological challenges. Same is expected in the sea.