President of ICES Bureau Cornelius Hammer.
'Normally pelagic is perceived as the open water. When you leave the coast, you cross water that is about 100-200 metres deep – the continental shelf – and then you are out in the open sea. What's underneath you is pelagic. The seemingly unstructured open water without boundaries. However, it is structured. We normally can't perceived this though. For the plankton that floats through the pelagic area and the fish that swim through it or drift with the currents, it is very structured. There are different water bodies and also movement of these horizontally and vertically.
There are areas where deep water rises, brining nutrients to the surface. With these nutrients there is diverse and productive life, which attracts predators. So in the middle of a seemingly uniform environment you find hotspots of life; other areas are pretty empty. Often you have huge visibility with little light. We call it the 'desert of the ocean'. It seems to be clear water, but from the perspective of an animal or plant in the environment it is a desert. Most of the pelagic is this clear water, but not all of it. There are huge horizontal and vertical movements; for instance in the pelagic North Atlantic, this is very productive, the water isn't that clear. The desert storms from the Sahara bring dust clouds which precipitate and fertilize the area with iron. This helps phytoplankton life and makes the water green and non-transparent. That again is the basis of zooplankton growth and then fish and mammals.
Between the Faroes and Iceland there is a huge barrier and the water from the north floats over at 200 metres deep over this barrier and falls down to three thousands metres. So there's a waterfall within this vast pelagic area. There's a lot of physical and biological activity going on in the pelagic environment, it's not just a uniform environment.'