An Oceans Abcdarium created by the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany

Nutrient Cycling

Tina Scherer

Like snowflakes in winter, white particles descend softly from the upper layers of the oceans into the deep. There, in the aphotic zone, there is little or no sunlight and energy cannot be gained through photosynthesis. A process known as the marine carbon pump transports organic detritus—particles of dead animals, phytoplankton, fecal matter, et cetera, from the ocean surface to these deeper layers. This so-called marine snow is an important source of nutrients and energy for the organisms of the deep. The organic matter that is not consumed by them becomes part of the seafloor sediment. This process removes carbon from the system and stores it. It is therefore an important factor both in the global carbon cycle and for the whole climate.The videos are based on cyanographies that were digitally distorted and animated. The resulting effect is reminiscent of a kind of “breathing” of the ocean.

Sources: Turner, Jefferson, “Zooplankton fecal pellets, marine snow, phytodetritus and the ocean’s biological pump”, Progress in Oceanography, vol. 130, (2015): 205-248.