A New Ocean Zone Described by the Smithsonian
On the 20th of March we made the first dive with Dr. Carole Baldwin to make her her discovery of two newly described zones in the ocean official; the Mesophotic- and the Rariphotic zone.
Beneath vibrant coral reefs, but above the lightless depths of the sea, lies the “twilight zone” of reefs. The declining health of shallow-water reefs has inspired increasing scientific interest in the so-called “mesophotic” (meaning middle light) zone, which starts at depths of about 40 meters (130 feet). But what lies beyond the mesophotic zone? Scientists have begun to explore these even deeper and darker areas, recently dubbed the rariphotic (meaning scarce light) zone. The reefs there turn out to be home to a startling variety of sea life, much of it yet to be discovered.
The newly recognized rariphotic zone ranges from 130 meters to at least 309 meters (427-1,014 feet). It is too deep for corals with photosynthetic algae to grow, and it is also too deep for even the specialized SCUBA equipment used to explore mesophotic reefs.