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Keep up to speed with our Falkor research cruise with this latest seafloor syntax!

Image shows magnified star sand foraminifera
Foraminifera "Star sand" from Hatoma Island - Japan.

From June 12 to July 3, the U.S. Geological Survey and Schmidt Ocean Institute will be conducting a research cruise off the coast of Oregon and Washington, hunting deep-sea bubbles and the creatures that eat them. While we post stories about our findings, we’ll also be posting little vignettes like these, in which we serve as your terminology tour-guides to the unusual and hard-to-pronounce words that dwell in the depths of deep-ocean science.

The WaterWord: Foraminifera


  • Foraminifera are a group of protists similar to amoebas that mostly live in the world’s oceans. Many of them live in the benthic sediments, though some float in the water column.
  • Foraminifera eat a wide variety of things, and some species even steal chlorophyll from the algae they eat to do their own photosynthesis.


Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:

  • Foraminifera are an important part of many ocean food chains, especially benthic ones. In addition, as they die, their bodies fall through the ocean until they reach the seafloor, helping to form ocean sediments.
  • Some oil and gas companies use the foraminifera fossils they find in cores to help evaluate the age of the rock and look for oil and gas deposits.

U.S. Geological Survey/Schmidt Ocean Institute Use:

  • USGS and SOI are collaborating on a research cruise off the coast of Oregon and Washington that will study methane seeps and what communities of creatures and other organisms live near them.

Next WaterWord: Infauna

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