The 12th day of Fishmas

posted by Veronique Koch on 23 December 2012

On the twelfth day of Fishmas, my dear love gave to me… marine snow!

 

 

c03_marine_snow

 

 

 

The only white Christmas underwater is thanks to marine snow. While not an animal itself, marine snow is made of decaying marine plants and animals, sand, soot, inorganic dust and waste. This continuously falling material resembles actual snow because it can gather into “snowflakes” as it travels down, sometimes weeks at a time, to the ocean floor. Once it reaches the darkest parts of the ocean, it becomes a very important energy source for the deep sea ecosystem.

 

 

Fun fact: While a lot of marine snow is consumed as it flutters down, a small percentage reaches the bottom and becomes part of a thick blanket of “ooze”, which is then decomposed even more by bacteria. This covers about 75% of the deep ocean floor. According to the NOAA Ocean Service, it can be between 948 feet and 6.2 miles thick!

 

 

marinesnow

 

 

Watch a video of a marine “snowstorm” in Borneo, Malaysia below:

 

 

Image sources here, here and here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.