Articles | Volume 12, issue 21
Biogeosciences, 12, 6453–6462, 2015
Biogeosciences, 12, 6453–6462, 2015

Reviews and syntheses 12 Nov 2015

Reviews and syntheses | 12 Nov 2015

Reviews and syntheses: the first records of deep-sea fauna – a correction and discussion

W. Etter and H. Hess W. Etter and H. Hess
  • Naturhistorisches Museum, Augustinergasse 2, 4001 Basel, Switzerland

Abstract. The soundings in deep waters of Baffin Bay, together with the recovery of a basket star by John Ross in 1818, was a milestone in the history of deep-sea research. Although the alleged water depths of up to 1950 m were by far not reached, these were nevertheless the first soundings in deep bathyal (to perhaps uppermost abyssal) depths. Furthermore, the recovery of a benthic animal proved that animal life existed at great depths. Yet this was not the first published record of deep-sea fauna as it is often portrayed. This merit goes to accidental catches of the stalked crinoid Cenocrinus asterius that were recovered with fishing lines from upper bathyal environments near Antillean islands. In addition, the description of several deep-sea fishes considerably predated the John Ross episode.

Short summary
The recovery of a basket star in 1818 from deep waters of Baffin Bay is often cited as the first organism that was brought up from the deep sea. Yet recoveries of stalked crinoids from the Caribbean and catches of several bathyal fishes occurred decades earlier. However, these accidental catches remained largely neglected during the 19th and 20th century because the bathyal nature of these animals was not recognized, and because they were not tied to a known water depth.
Final-revised paper