Exploring the

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Deep-Sea Conservation

The deep-sea is our Earth’s largest ecosystem, and our planet’s final frontier for research and discovery. Recent studies also suggest our deep oceans contain the greatest fish biomass on our planet—estimated to be 1,000 million tons—and this biome can pull up to 30% of atmospheric carbon into the seafloor. However, deep-sea environments still remain largely unexplored, poorly understood, and have few conservation measures in place.




As commercial fisheries have overfished surface waters, industry is now expanding its footprint farther and deeper into the ocean, posing risks to some of the slowest growing fish and invertebrate species on our planet, and also those we have yet to properly describe. In addition, there is the looming threat of deep seabed mining, whereby the impacts on deep-sea ecosystem processes and ocean health remain unknown. Failing to categorize deep-sea biodiversity could result in countless areas and species continuing to fall through the cracks of fragmented ocean governance.


Beneath the Waves is using a suite of non-invasive monitoring tools to collaboratively address the data deficit in the deep ocean, in primary sampling locations throughout the Northern Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, as well as campaign-based work in the Pacific Oceans.

Rapid biodiversity sampling is employed to generate proxy-based evidence for how ecologically important species are distributed on shelf habitats from 200 – 1,000 meters, as well as in deeper abyssal zones. Our team integrates also oceanography with biology to gather a comprehensive understanding of the function of these ecosystems. Tools include deep-sea drop camera rigs, which are able to record species abundance remotely for 7-8 hours, in virtually any deep-sea ecosystem on our planet up to 5,000 meters. In addition, water sampling is frequently used for environmental DNA, and submersibles and remotely-operated vehicles are used.



This project will drive impact in the following ways:

  • Marine reserves are extended to include deep-sea habitats in the areas we work
  • Harmful commercial and industrial activities are prohibited in described hotspots
  • Overfishing of deep-sea fishes is reduced through improved management
  • New data on species occurrence and behavior are discovered