ARCHIVE: 25 Things You Should Know About the Deep Sea: #2 The Deep Sea is the Earth's Largest Environment

It is well known that ~70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Of this, 90% lies beyond the continental shelf and is greater than 200m with 79% is greater than 1000m. However, scientist now know that the deep sea comprises a variety of habitats such as methane seeps, seamounts, hydrothermal vents, etc. (I will discuss these different habitats in more detail in a later 25 Things You Should Know About the Deep Sea). So this idea can be restated to be more precise. The largest habitat on earth by volume is deep-water pelagic systems or by surface area the soft-bottom benthos (mud, silt, or clay bottoms as opposed to rock).

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.