Scientists process sediment cores from the deep sea
To help study the biodiversity present in the deep sea, scientists collect sediment cores. These cores are about a foot long and provide a vertical profile of deep-sea sediment, or mud. USGS scientists at the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center identify and quantify the tiny animals found within the seafloor sediment to better understand deep-sea ecosystems and organisms. Known as macrofauna, these animals that are no bigger than a pencil eraser, play an important role in the ocean, helping with nutrient cycling and the oceanic food web as larger animals rely on these critters for food. They can also serve as environmental indicators and can provide insight into how deep-sea ecosystems respond and potentially recover from disturbance events, like an oil spill.
This image is a screenshot taken from a video presentation about USGS deep sea research from the 2020 virtual St. Petersburg Science Festival.