Introduction to DESCNA

Authors: Julius Nielsen and Martin Nielsen, March 2012

DESCNA explores a mysterious world unknown to many – the world of the deep sea. Even though the deep sea provides the largest habitat on Earth, very little is known about the life and processes down there. Life in the deep sea has evolved under physical conditions very different from our own, and the various shapes and functions of the organisms draw your mind to what life on another planet might look like. Since plants and algae can't grow below 200 m, life in the deep sea is dependent on nutrients supplied from the water above. Lack of food is therefore common, and life has adapted towards efficient hunting while at the same time struggling not to end up as prey themselves. Organisms in the dark and deep ocean have evolved through millions of years, which have resulted in many fascinating adaptations such as the ability to produce light. The biodiversity in the oceans is huge, and with more than 35,000 species of boney fish, the variety of adaptations, shapes and colors seems endless. DESCNA presents a small part of the life in the deep ocean, but also a part of the life with which it coexists: whales, cephalopods, crustaceans, fish, sea birds and many more organisms are a part of the ocean and its ecosystems – ecosystems which are negatively affected from many directions. Climate changes lead to heating of the oceans, and as the temperature rise the composition of organisms and biological communities change. The marine flora and fauna are also affected by anthropogenic activity such as industrial fishing and pollution, which combined leads to great stress on marine ecosystems. In a time where the modern way of life is based on the use of resources, which by far exceeds the capacity of our planet, the environmental challenges seem difficult and impossible to solve. With DESCNA we wish to show a foreign world, which with a scientific approach can fascinate and inspire to a more respectful treatment of the oceans and the life within.