The largest migration on Earth is very rarely seen by human eyes, yet it happens every day. Billions of marine creatures ascend from as far as 2km below the surface of the water to the upper reaches of the ocean at night, only to then float back down once the sun rises.
This huge movement of organisms – ranging from tiny cockatoo squids to microscopic crustaceans, shifting for food or favorable temperatures – was little known to science until relatively recently.
A new research mission is currently initiating a comprehensive health check of the deep oceans that future changes will be measured against. The consortium of scientists and divers, led by Nekton, is backed by XL Catlin, which has already funded a global analysis of shallow water coral reefs. The new mission is looking far deeper – onwards of 150m down, further than most research that is restricted by the limits of scuba divers.
The Nekton researchers are discovering a whole web of life that could be unknown to science as they attempt to broaden this knowledge. The Guardian joined the mission vessel Baseline Explorer in its survey off the coast of Bermuda, where various corals, sponges and sea slugs have been hauled up from the deep.
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