Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006) Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006)
Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006)
Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006)
Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006) Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006) Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOC 2006)
Deep-sea grenadier fish, Nezumia sp. (© NOCS 2006)
 

An introduction to UK deepwater habitats A deep-sea habitat

A habitat may be defined as the physical location or type of environment in which an organism, biological population or community lives or occurs. It is the physical part of the community structure in which an organism finds its home, and includes the sum total of all the environmental conditions present in the specific place occupied by an organism. Often a habitat is defined to include a whole community of organisms.

A greater understanding and appreciation of the distribution, extent and status or quality of marine habitats is required to aid in the protection of threatened and rare habitats. Habitat assessment is important in order to ascertain the state of the marine environment and subsequent management of human activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, wind energy and nature conservation. Marine habitat information needs to play a major role in the ecosystem- based approach to management of the marine environment, now widely advocated at both national and international levels (Defra, 2002; North Sea Conference, 2002).

Marine benthic habitats (seashore and seabed habitats and their associated communities) for Britain have been assigned a national classification by the JNCC (see here ). The purpose of this habitat classification is to provide a tool to aid management and conservation. The classification is fully compatible with and contributes to the European EUNIS habitat classification (see here ).

Despite the existence of these classification systems, none of the current systems are immediately applicable in the deep-sea at all scales and for all purposes, and while there may be merit in combining some schemes for use in classifying deep-sea habitats, there is currently no definitive method (see ICES Deep-water Ecology Working Group Report, 2006). Until a definitive deep-sea habitat classification system has been agreed we have worked with a simplistic habitat description system based on image content. These habitats are described further in the following pages.

Muddy habitats
Sandy habitats
Rocky habitats

For description of other deep-sea habitats not covered here see deepseaconservation.org

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