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Introduction to Ocean Depths

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Fig. 9.1. Deep-sea submersibles, specially designed to deal with the challenging work conditions underwater, are able to explore the ocean depths.

Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The vast majority of the world ocean is not easily accessible by humans. This is particularly true for the ocean’s depths. However, scientists, using modern technological innovations, are learning more and more about the abiotic conditions in the ocean’s depths and the organisms that are adapted to live in them. This unit will define the five primary depth zones of the ocean. The changes in light and pressure in the deep ocean have important consequences for the organisms that live in these zones, and for the scientists trying to study them.

 

 

 

Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the surface through the water column to the seafloor. Most of the living space on Earth is in the ocean. (OLP 5e)

To build an understanding of the vast living space in the ocean, it is important to understand that much of this habitat is in the mid-ocean and spans the water from the surface to the ocean bottom.

These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

 

Principle 7: The ocean is largely unexplored

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean is the last and largest unexplored place on Earth—less than 5% of it has been explored. This is the great frontier for the next generation’s explorers and researchers, where they will find great opportunities for inquiry and investigation. (OLP 7a)

To build an understanding of the ocean as the largest unexplored place on Earth, it is important to examine the diving technologies that have made it possible for this exploration to occur.

These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

 

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: New technologies, sensors and tools are expanding our ability to explore the ocean. Ocean scientists are relying more and more on satellites, drifters, buoys, subsea observatories and unmanned submersibles. (OLP 7d)

To build an understanding of the current technology that is being used to explore the ocean, it is important to understand the constraints that explorers and scientists face, including light, temperature and pressure effects that drastically change with depth.

These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.