Kaikoura Canyon Seabed Life

This video is made up of stitched-together footage of the floor of the Kaikoura Canyon, 1km below the ocean surface. It shows that the area has some of the most abundant life of any known deepsea habitat: 100 times more invertebrate biomass than anything previously found at this depth, excluding hydrothermal vents.

Credit: NIWA, NOAA.  Note: laser points are 20cm apart.


The footage was taken using NIWA's Deep Towed Imaging System (operated on the RV Tangaroa) in 2006, during the RENEWZ I voyage.  The purpose of the voyage was conduct an exploration of the ecosystems in the area which are chemosynthetic - that is, the energy needed for life comes from inorganic molecules such as hydrogen sulfide, rather than from sunlight.

More information about the findings can be found in the latest Water & Atmosphere, titled "Kaikoura Canyon – the hottest hotspot". 

A paper published on the findings is also available: De Leo, F, Smith, C.R., Rowden, A.A., Bowden, D.A., Clark, M.R. (2010). Submarine canyons: hotspots of benthic biomass and productivity in the deep sea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 22, 277, 2783-2792