New Depth Record for Living Seafloor Micro-algae
This story entered on 19th Jan, 2004 06:00:00
Scientists at the University of North
Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), using a Remotely Operated Vehicle
owned and operated by NOAA's Undersea Research Center at UNCW (NURC-UNCW),
the NURP Center for the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico, found
microscopic plants living on the seafloor at depths substantially
greater than any previously published record.
Dr. Lawrence B. Cahoon of UNCW's Department of Biological Sciences
notes that "if this new set of values represents the actual
distribution range of photoautotrophic benthic microalgae, then
it dramatically increases the depth and areal extent of marine habitats
in which benthic microalgal biomass and production may be important."
Researchers Dr. Cahoon and Dr. Richard A. Laws (UNCW's Department
of Earth Sciences), assisted by Marine Science graduate student
Dorien K. McGee, found a variety of living benthic (live on or in
the seafloor) microalgae called diatoms in sediments collected by
NURC-UNCW's SuperPhantom II ROV during the 4-day cruise in October
2003. The ROV sampled bottom sediments along two transects which
crossed the continental shelf break from depths of 70 to 190 m,
well beyond the reach of scuba divers.
The UNCW scientists found a variety of "living" benthic diatom
species in every sample collected, including a small set of living
pennate (spindle-shaped) species at the deepest sampling site.
Name: Andy Shepard
Tel: (910) 962-2441