Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Event Name/Location

Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Providence, Rhode Island, July 7-11, 2010

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The assemblage structure and ecology of meso- and bathypelagic fishes are poorly known in general, particularly over mid-ocean ridges. In June 2004, the month-long MAR-ECO (Census of Marine Life) research expedition aboard the R/V G.O. Sars sampled the deep-pelagic fauna over the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge with the objective of quantitatively assessing the nekton associated with the ridge from Iceland to the Azores. A total of 115 discrete-depth trawl samples were taken from the surface to depths of 3000+ meters using two different double-warp midwater trawls, one of commercial fishing size (a large ‘Akra' trawl) and one of oceanographic research size (‘Macroplankton' or ‘Krill' trawl). Catch data revealed the deep-sea smelt Bathylagus euryops to be the biomass dominant species, accounting for over 28% of total biomass, as well as being the 3rd most abundant species along the MAR. Further distributional analyses elucidated a trend in decreasing biomass from north to south with a biomass maximum around 1500-2000 meters. Understanding the food-web structure and organic cycling of deep-pelagic ecosystems is critical for increasing our knowledge of the distributional patterns of deep-sea fishes. Preliminary results indicate that gelatinous zooplankton represents a significant component of the diet of B. euryops. Molecular probes are currently being developed to identify these prey items in this, and other fishes that consume gelatinous zooplankton.