START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Climate Change Means No Food for Deep Sea Creatures

Climate Change Means No Food for Deep Sea Creatures

Not even those who dwell at the bottom of the sea can escape global warming. An international research team from Australia, Canada, France and the U.K. have found that those who live far below the surface of the ocean will not go unscathed due to climate change. Specifically, two very important and currently abundant types of ocean plankton, a key component of many aquatic animals’ diets, will be adversely affected as marine ecosystems change.

As scientists from the U.K.’s National Oceanography Center report in Global Change Biology, over the next century, the number of organisms that live on the sea floor will fall by more than 5 percent globally and by 38 percent in the North Atlantic.

These deep-sea communities (which live at depths of four kilometers or 2.5 miles) are bottom-feeders who rely on plants and animals that live at the ocean surface and sink bottomwards after they die for their food. Organisms that live at or near the surface will themselves be in decline as their ocean habitat is altered. Warmer, rainier weather resulting from climate change will, it is predicted, cause a slowing down of the circulation of the oceans worldwide and also lead to stratification, an increased separation between layers of water.

Comments Daniel Jones, the study’s lead author,

“There has been some speculation about climate change impacts on the seafloor, but we wanted to try and make numerical projections for these changes and estimate specifically where they would occur.

“We were expecting some negative changes around the world, but the extent of changes, particularly in the North Atlantic, was staggering. Globally we are talking about losses of marine life weighing more than every person on the planet put together.”

Jones and other scientists used computer models to predict how the food supply in the world’s oceans will be affected in the upcoming decades. Drawing on a huge global database of marine life, they looked at the relationship between the food supply in the ocean and biomass (biological material derived from living organisms or those that were recently alive). Most deep sea habitats including cold-water coral reefs, seamounts (a mountain rising from the ocean floor that does not reach its surface) and canyons are predicted to experience a loss of total biomass.

hydroid Corymorpha glacial, credit: SERPENT


Even more, the food supply for bottom-dwelling creatures will decline because the organisms that do subsist will be smaller and less efficient users of energy. One example of megafauna (large animals) that will likely decline in numbers is the hydroid Corymorpha glacial.

The loss of plankton that nourishes bottom-dwellers is also of concern as they help to regulate the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. For all that these animals live at depths that we can only begin to imagine, they are as much affected by global warming as we are. If you’re starting this new year by working on cutting down on the amount of plastics you use and otherwise reducing your carbon footprint, remember that your doing so helps not only yourself and those in your community, but organisms living deep under the sea.


Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
7:05AM PST on Nov 4, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

2:26AM PDT on Apr 5, 2014


11:55AM PST on Jan 16, 2014

Of course they are in danger just like every other species humans manage to decimate. What is going to happen when we have killed all the other species on this planet? I hope I'm not around to bear witness. It's going to be ugly.

7:45AM PST on Jan 14, 2014

Thanks for the read..

6:22AM PST on Jan 14, 2014

terrible. People will not be protected any more than the other living creatures. all the undersea dwellers will only be able to eat (are eating) minute pieces of plastic. very terrible.

3:50AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

The human would soon suffer the same

1:55AM PST on Jan 13, 2014


5:42PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

So sad.

2:36PM PST on Jan 12, 2014


7:06AM PST on Jan 12, 2014


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!