WaterWords–Infauna

Release Date:

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

Image shows a Lanice conchilega worm against a black background

A Lanice conchilega worm, which normally lives in a tube within the seafloor sediments.

(Image credit: By Matthias Buschmann (User:M.Buschmann) - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1895533)

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: Infauna

Definition:

  • Some species are content to simply perch on the surface of the seafloor sediments, whereas others prefer to dive into the dirt on the ocean floor. These deep-sea dwellers in marine sediments are known as infauna.

Etymology:

  • Infauna comes from the Latin fauna, a Roman fertility goddess.

Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:

  • Infauna are an important part of the benthic ecosystems at the bottom of the ocean. They help process the nutrients that fall from above and serve as critical food resources for other seafloor dwellers, including crabs and fish.
  • In addition, when they die, their corpses help form the deep-sea sedimentary rocks that make up the seafloor.

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: Backscatter

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