Far below the ocean’s surface, these tiny animals are busy ‘upcycling’ food
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa published new findings on a community of tiny animals that upcycles food while in complete darkness.
Zooplankton, a kind of free-floating animal, transforms smaller nutrients into higher quality food in the “twilight zone” of the ocean.
The twilight zone — about 200-1,000 meters below the ocean surface — is where the well-lit surface ocean transitions into complete darkness.
A zone too dark for plants to grow, the twilight zone often forces living communities to use the material produced in the overlying water to survive.
However, from studying zooplankton in the Gulf of Alaska, scientists discovered that the species instead processes carbon in the twilight zone.
By doing so, zooplankton provide high-quality food to their local deep-sea food web in the Pacific Ocean.
With these findings, scientists can better understand how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide altogether in the atmosphere.
The study was published in Limnology and Oceanography on Thursday.
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