A team of scientists lead by oceanographer Alan Jamieson has discovered a new ocean zone that they propose to name ‘rariphotic’. According to a March 2018 article published in Nature Scientific Reports, this new, poorly lit zone at a depth of between 130 and 300 metres is home to a multitude of living organisms.
The team identified around a hundred new species of reef fish and dozens of species of algae in their study area close to the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean. The discovery of the rariphotic zone took place within the framework of a programme bringing together around 15 research institutes for the study of 40,000 specimens and samples. Until now, the rariphotic zone located just below the ‘mesophotic’ was considered to be lifeless. Scientists explain that this change is due to the climatic upheavals that have forced many species to seek refuge at greater depth in order to escape higher temperatures and the pollution of coral reefs.
With this discovery, researchers have established a new classification of ocean-life zones in coral reef areas: the ‘altiphotic’ zone (from the surface down to 40 metres); the mesophotic (40-130m), the rariphotic (130-300m) and the ‘bathyal’ (from 300 down to 3,000m). The study’s final results are expected to be ready by the end of 2018.