Deep Sea

Deep Sea


  New species in the Deep Sea

Marine Parasitology studies fish parasites in all parts of the world Oceans. One of the less studied ecosystems on earth is the deep sea. The deep-sea is characterized by an absence of sunlight, low water temperatures, high hydrostatic pressure, weak water currents, and scarcity of food. The principal factors determining the settlement of organisms are food availability and water movement. Expensive research expeditions are needed to get access to the unique research material.

Also the deep-sea inhabits a rich parasite fauna, consisting of all major taxa. In total, 421 of the 3800-4200 known deep-sea fish species (less than 10%) have been studied for its metazoan parasites so far. These hosts harbour 621 different parasite species. It has been estimated that between 1.5 to more than 3 different metazoan parasite species can infest each single fish species also in the deep-sea environment, leading to the assumption that between 5-10,000 parasite species occur below 200 m water depth.

Deep sea fish parasitology neccessitates the collection of deep sea fish on board of international research vessels. The above pictures were taken on an expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Mar-Eco). The pictures below illustrate 2 different copepode parasite species that infest deep sea fish.

The pictures above were taken on a research expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Nearly nothing is known about the deep-sea fish parasite fauna in that region. However, because especially digenean trematodes and crustacean ectoparasites have been recorded to have a high biodiversity also in deep waters, these parasites were also obvious in the catches. The purpose of our research activities is, besides the discovery of new species, a better understanding of the importance of deep-sea mountains and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for the zoogeographical distribution widely distributed parasites species. Our data will enable a better understanding on how the evolution of the parasite fauna into the deep-sea has taken place.



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