Ocean twilight zone project

Cristina, one of our PhD students, who is in the final PhD periods, will be on board on a research survey which is part of the Ocean twilight zone project, led by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she did her research stay at Woods Hole with Joel Llopiz in 2020. This huge project aims to study the mesopelagic zone (between 200 and 1000m) that takes up a massive area, covering almost all of the world’s open oceans. Yet despite its size, it’s still not well understood by scientists. Recent studies suggest that the biomass and biodiversity of the twilight zone is much greater than previously thought. Heidi M. Sosik (one of the scientific leaders) explains part of the project in this TED Talk.

The general objectives of the project are: the study of biodiversity and biomass, the functioning of food webs in the mesopelagic zone, the study of the life history and behaviour of the species, the study of the biological pump of carbon, which captures a large part of the CO2 emitted (being an essential sink on the planet) and the development of new sampling technologies that allow progress in the study of this zone.

Source: https://www.whoi.edu/

They will be on board in May (from the 1st to the 21st) on the Spanish research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, with Ken Buesseler as campaign leader. The sampling will take place on the Porcupine Abyssal Platform (PAP), where they will work with two other research vessels. This research survey is partly funded by NASA, as sampling will also be carried out for the EXPORTS project. This is a multi-scale, multi-dimensional study that integrates new technologies to study biodiversity in the study area and to understand the biological carbon pump. Samples and data will be collected focused on eddies. Cristina will work in Joel Llopiz’s group, sampling the biodiversity of the mesopelagic zone during the day and night, in order to take into account the large daily migrations that take place in the water column and that influence the functioning of the ecosystem (the largest animal migration on the planet).

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