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Deep-Sea Fish

April 26, 2006

The total darkness and intense pressure at the ocean floor make it a very difficult place to explore. But now a team of scientists has studied the same spot for 15 years, and their findings are surprising.


Shedding light on the sea floor. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Overfishing has devastated fish populations around the globe. But nets can’t yet reach the abyssal plain, the ocean’s dark floor found some four thousand meters down. Now scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, have taken the first long-term look at the abyssal plain, and what they found was surprising—the population of a fish called the grenadier tripled in 15 years. Marine biologist David Bailey says this boom is likely the result of natural ocean cycles like El Niño that affect the production of nutrients on the surface.

DAVID BAILEY (Scripps Institution of Oceanography. La Jolla California):
And how productive the surface waters are strongly affect how much food arrives on the sea floor.

He says so far there’s little sign of human influence on these fish—a rarity anywhere on the planet. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.