Giant Larvacean Houses: Rapid Carbon Transport to the Deep Sea Floor

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Science  10 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5728, pp. 1609-1611
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109104

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An unresolved issue in ocean science is the discrepancy between the food requirements of the animals living on the deep sea floor and their food supply, as measured by sediment traps. A 10-year time-series study of the water column off Monterey Bay, California, revealed that the discarded mucus feeding structures of giant larvaceans carry a substantial portion of the upper ocean's productivity to the deep seabed. These abundant, rapidly sinking, carbon-rich vectors are not detected by conventional sampling methods and thus have not been included in calculations of vertical nutrient flux or in oceanic carbon budgets.

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