The Twilight Zone

What is the ocean made of? What are the layers of the ocean? Could living organisms contribute to or help fight against global warming or other global problems? What still needs to be discovered? These are all weird but good questions. In reality, we don’t know a lot about the ocean. Did you know that only 5-10% of the ocean has been discovered? Just because we haven’t discovered a little doesn’t mean that we haven’t learned a lot from just the small portion we have experienced. We have learned that the ocean has layers just like the Earth. These layers are known as the Sunlight Zone, which is from the surface down to about 200m, the Twilight Zone, which starts at 200m below the surface and continues to descend to 1000m, and finally, the Midnight Zone, which continues from 1000m until 4000m below the surface.  The Sunlight Zone gets the most light, whereas the Twilight and Midnight Zones are almost completely pitch black with no light. We don’t just know about the layers. We have also learned about different organisms and what the ecosystems look like underwater, at least in the Sunlight Zone and into the Twilight Zone.  From there on, still lie… mysteries and unanswered questions. 

Before the 1940’s we had only explored the Sunlight Zone. No technology or people had even ventured that far down or discovered the Twilight or Midnight Zones yet. However, during World War II, when they had started testing ways to detect submarines, they had found that they had detected something bigger.  To discover submarines they would use the Sonar method. Sonar consisted of setting out a series of pulses that would then reflect off an object to detect something. They found that it worked however when they tried it again, they had found that something even bigger had been underneath them. They originally thought that it was a bunch of fish that were constantly migrating every day. Every day the way the pulses reacted varied and changed. It would rise, and it would fall. This finding later led to the discovery of both the Twilight and Midnight Zones. Because of discovering it recently in the 1940’s, we have only started gathering research since then, so we don’t have much. 

The research that followed helped find and name some of the many living organisms we have today. However, located in the depths of the Twilight Zone, live much different fish than near the surface. These fish have adapted to living with little to no light, colder temperatures, and different ways of living. Many of the animals that live in the Twilight Zone have built-in light. Aside from just being colorful, they also are luminescent. They use their luminescence as a communication device. When a video had been shown from a camera sent into the ocean, and scientists traveled in a submarine-like vehicle, they described it as just seeing flashes of light around you in the dark. However, this wasn’t the only thing found by scientists about the fish though.

Fish didn’t only use their bodies to communicate but have also used their bodies to help slow down climate change. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. When it is absorbed, many tiny organisms use it as a way to create shells or things needed to live. After this, scientists found out that many animals living in the Twilight Zone would often come up to consume these tiny organisms overnight. Now you may ask, “What does this have to do with climate change?” Well… when those animals would consume the tiny organisms they would also be consuming the carbon dioxide and bringing it back down with them when they return to the Twilight or Midnight zone. It may also seem like they would be consuming a lot of carbon dioxide, and it wouldn’t have anywhere to go, but they are helping because of their stool. They swim to the surface, eat the tiny organisms with carbon dioxide, descend back down into the water, and then release the stool keeping it concealed at the bottom of the ocean never to resurface with the carbon dioxide.  

Because of all the undiscovered water, many different scientists and countries are all racing to unlock more. Some countries have set boundaries for what waters are theirs but haven’t set boundaries on what is allowed there. This is causing more of a concern because if more people start to fish more towards the Twilight Zone there could be a possibility of killing off the fish that are helping to slow down the process of climate change. They could also be killing off the other organisms that are just as useful but help with other things. It is a race to get more regulations up so that way we have a chance at protecting the life of the ocean and earth. Currently, there has been some talk about more laws and regulations that may be passed, but no one has come to a full decision yet. 

In conclusion, while we are still discovering the ocean we need to protect it too. Many organizations tackle problems like regulations and research. They help with funding and push people to help vote and try to change the way others treat our oceans. Learning about this type of research is fun and intriguing, so it would be a shame if we could no longer do it.

Charlotte Menard

DePaul Collage Prep