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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 456 - Feature article
Mesopelagic fishes show efficient avoidance behavior to sampling gears, leading to large underestimation of their abundance. Image: Hege Vestheim

Kaartvedt S, Staby A, Aksnes DL


Efficient trawl avoidance by mesopelagic fishes causes large underestimation of their biomass


Mesopelagic fishes form a link between higher trophic levels and zooplankton and their pronounced diel vertical migrations contribute to the biological pump, whereby organic material is transported from the upper to the deeper water layers. However, the ecological significance of mesopelagic fishes remains uncertain. Their global biomass is currently estimated at 1 Gt, based on midwater trawl catches, but acoustic abundance estimates are consistently higher. Kaartvedt and colleagues present evidence of efficient sampling gear avoidance and suggest that mesopelagic fish abundance has been underestimated by one order of magnitude. Therefore, the ecological role of mesopelagic fishes in the oceans is probably more significant than has been assumed.


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