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)
 

Sandy habitatsA typical sandy habitat enjoyed by all!



UK deep-sea habitats are very variable and in addition to typical ‘deep-sea muds’ are also characterised by extensive sandy sediments. These sandy areas provide a very different habitat and are therefore colonised by a distinct fauna. Sandier sediments are often indicative of greater current flows.


Typical deep-water sandy habitat from the Faroe-Bank Channel at 1000-1200m


The deep-waters (at about 1000-1200m) of the Faroe Bank Channel and southern reaches of the Faroe-Shetland Channel are a good example of this deep-sea sand habitat. The sandier sediments are home to a more abundant population of megabenthos – white stalked sponges being the visually most striking component of the fauna.

Other seabed habitats in the SEA4 area are also indicative of significant bottom water flows that result in the transport of fine sediments: sandy contourite deposits and barchan sand-dune fields.

Sandy contourite area at 900m from the West of Shetland



This photograph (right) shows an area of sandy contourite found at the base of the West Shetland Slope (c.900m water depth). This unusual habitat supports a unique and novel community of surface-dwelling enteropneusts (acorn worms). Deep-sea enteropneusts typically follow a burrowing lifestyle and may be abundant. A closer look at these pictures (search for sandy contourite in the image bank) will reveal the multi-opening burrows that are thoguht to be produced by enteropneusts and which are a common observation in deep-sea photographs.



Barchan sand dunes in the southern Faroe-Shetland Channel at 1200m



This photograph (left) is taken from the barchan sand-dune field in the southern Faroe-Shetland Channel, (at about 1200m water depth). You can see that small anemones are numerous on these dunes; they are filter feeding animals - capturing small particles in their sticky tentacles, and the higher bottom currents in the sand dunes clearly facilitate this method of feeding.



There is also a sandy habitat that deserves a separate mention - for information about the special case of the Darwin Mounds see here

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