Have you ever wondered what kind of weird creatures call the “bottom” of our planet home? The Mariana Trench, more specifically the Challenger Deep, rests at an incredible seven miles below the ocean’s surface. It is the deepest point in Earth’s oceans. Many questions have been asked about life in the Mariana Trench such as what kind of life could live in such a dark, cold, and pressured habitat? Well, there are many kinds of life down there and one of the most recent ones is an odd species of bacteria.
A team of Danish scientists discovered these strange creatures and reported their findings. They thrive in large amounts at the bottom of the Challenger Deep. The researches deployed an autonomous instrument that was meant to examine mud at the bottom of the trench and to measure oxygen dynamics. Data received by the team eventually proved that a new group of microbes lived there and consumed higher amounts of oxygen than neighboring species.
As you can imagine, the conditions there are way different from shallower waters. These microbes rely on one particular type of food. They really can’t move around too much since it is pitch black, so they let the food come to them. Organic matter from the surface or water only a few hundred feet above, floats miles all the way down to the bottom to provide food for these weird living things. Actually, only one to two percent of the particles make it all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. These deep-dwelling single-celled organisms aren’t the only ones who eat this. The home of the bacteria is about 1100 times the pressure for us, but it has no effect on them like it would on humans.
This community of microscopic organisms lives about a foot or so underneath the top of soft sediment resting on the bottom of the ocean. The incredible amount of the weird germ-like creatures is like this only because the Mariana Trench is a big hole. It is as simple as that. I giant pit is in the ocean, so a lot of stuff falls in, such as sediment. The soft material is perfect for the creatures as far as maintaining temperature, restricting harmful animals, and getting the food to them.
What we call germs up here has actually taught us a lot about the unpredictable depths of the oceans. A lot of people just think of an open plain with nothing but a few weeds and an occasional alien-looking fish at the bottom of the ocean, but this discovery has taught us how nourishing and life-sustaining such a “dead” ecosystem can be. A few recent discoveries near the oceanic crust have shown results of fantastic oceanic bacteria populations. They have triggered many other expeditions in effort to find areas with larger than normal bacterial populations there might be. There is a lot about our oceans that we don’t know. This incredible discovery is only a fraction of the other intriguing secrets that await us.
Is there other organisms that exist in such large amounts at the bottom of the ocean?
Would these bacteria be able to survive in shallower areas?
Is there even more of them deeper in the sediment of Challenger Deep?