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Pelagic Nekton of the open ocean

Nekton are mobile animals that can swim against currents, e.g. fishes, cephalopods, large crustaceans, and even whales. We know very little about the nektonic species living in the water column of the blue ocean waters, and especially at depths beyond 1000 m.

  • Who are they, and how are they distributed?
  • Do they aggregate around topographic and hydrographic features?
  • How much daily vertical migration is there?
  • What are the feeding patterns of the different species?
  • How do they interact?
  • What are their reproductive strategies?


1. Map the distribution and composition of pelagic nekton over the northern MAR.
2. Compare pelagic nekton abundance and assemblage structure over and away from the MAR.
3. Determine pelagic nekton abundance and assemblage structure as a function of
latitude and known biogeographic provinces.


1. Pelagic biomass is enhanced over the MAR relative to surrounding waters.
2. Pelagic assemblage structure over the MAR differs from surrounding waters.
3. The MAR pelagic assemblage changes along a latitudinal gradient through changes in the distribution of its components.
4. The MAR effects the vertical distribution of the pelagic nekton.


Broad-scale surveys, with multiple cross-ridge transects between Iceland and the Azores, and meso-scale and repeat surveys focused on the two southern MAR-ECO sub-areas.


  • Multiple-opening-closing nets and trawls (MOCNESS, and large pelagic trawls with three cod-ends.)
  • Hydroacoustics (multi-frequency systems on ship hull, towed vehicle, acoustic buoy and bottom-mounted buoy).
  • Optics and Bioluminescence profiling (vertical and underway plankton profilers, OPC, UVP, free-fall landers).
  • Remotely Operated and Autonomous Vehicles (ROV "Aglantha", AUV "Hugin")
  • Manned submersibles MIR1 and 2.
  •  Molecular genetic analysis
  • Experiments on artificial fertilization (life history studies on deep-dwelling fishes)


Preparation of field work: 2002-2003, Sampling and observation at sea: 2003-2005, Analysis and dissemination: 2005-2008.


PI: Uwe Piatkowski (Germany), Tracey Sutton (USA)

Henrik Skov (Denmark), Heino Fock, Sven Klimpel, Uwe Piatkowski (Germany), Thorsteinn Sigurdsson (Iceland), Olav Rune Godø, Åge Høines, Mikko Heino, Leif Nøttestad, Henrik Søiland, Atle Totland, Bjørn Erik Axelsen (Norway), Filipe Porteiro, Ricardo Santos (Portugal), Sergei Evseenko, Maria Shtaut, Diana Polbakova, Stanislav Kobyliansky, Andrey Dolgov (Russia), Peter Boyle, Mark Tasker (UK), Tim Smith, Tracey Sutton, Mike Vecchione, Gordon Waring (USA), Thorsteinn Sigurdsson (Iceland).

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