Deep Ocean: Gorda Escarpment

There are oases of life in the deep ocean environment. Once such biological hotspot is called the Gorda Escarpment – an underwater plateau located off the coast of northern California. Well, recently, scientists have observed some rather unusual behavior there. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“The community on the Gorda Escarpment is quite dense. The animals that we are interested in, in particular, are the blob sculpins, and these are large fish, about two feet long. They look like a big flabby tadpole, and large octopuses about the size of a soccer ball.”

Jeff Drazen is a marine biologist with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. With the help of remote cameras on robot submersibles, he and his colleagues have been witnessing some rather unprecedented behavior in the deep ocean environment.

“We have never observed parental care in a deep sea fish before, and yet, here we see these blob sculpins… they’re sitting on these large patches of eggs that they’ve laid on these boulders, up to 100,000 eggs in a little nest.”

And they’re not the only deep sea creatures which seem to have the nesting instinct.

“And then we have these deep sea octopus. They lay about maybe 50 eggs, and they hold them underneath their arms attached to the rock. And these eggs are really large – they’re about two inches long, each one of them. And why they’re both choosing this location to brood their eggs is unknown. We suspect that the sea floor features – the topography, and a variety of physical and chemical factors, are creating a critical habitat for both of these animals.”

Most of the life in the deep ocean is concentrated in hotspots like the Gorda Escarpment. So the more we can learn about then, the better we can help protect the entire deep ocean ecosystem.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

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Deep Ocean: Gorda Escarpment

Marine biologists discover parental care in two deep-sea species.
Air Date:06/29/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:


There are oases of life in the deep ocean environment. Once such biological hotspot is called the Gorda Escarpment - an underwater plateau located off the coast of northern California. Well, recently, scientists have observed some rather unusual behavior there. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"The community on the Gorda Escarpment is quite dense. The animals that we are interested in, in particular, are the blob sculpins, and these are large fish, about two feet long. They look like a big flabby tadpole, and large octopuses about the size of a soccer ball."

Jeff Drazen is a marine biologist with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. With the help of remote cameras on robot submersibles, he and his colleagues have been witnessing some rather unprecedented behavior in the deep ocean environment.

"We have never observed parental care in a deep sea fish before, and yet, here we see these blob sculpins... they’re sitting on these large patches of eggs that they’ve laid on these boulders, up to 100,000 eggs in a little nest."

And they're not the only deep sea creatures which seem to have the nesting instinct.

"And then we have these deep sea octopus. They lay about maybe 50 eggs, and they hold them underneath their arms attached to the rock. And these eggs are really large - they’re about two inches long, each one of them. And why they’re both choosing this location to brood their eggs is unknown. We suspect that the sea floor features - the topography, and a variety of physical and chemical factors, are creating a critical habitat for both of these animals."

Most of the life in the deep ocean is concentrated in hotspots like the Gorda Escarpment. So the more we can learn about then, the better we can help protect the entire deep ocean ecosystem.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

music