Overview: Open Ocean Habitats

The open ocean has always played a vital role in the culture, subsistence, and economic well-being of Hawai‘i’s inhabitants. The Hawaiian Islands lie in the Pacific Ocean, a body of water covering more than one-third of the Earth’s surface. In the following four lessons, students learn about open ocean habitats, from the ocean’s lighter surface to the darker bottom floor thousands of feet below the surface. Although organisms are scarce in the deep sea, there is a large diversity of organisms in addition to bottom fish such as polycheate worms, crustaceans, and bivalve mollusks. They come to realize that few things in the open ocean have adapted to cope with the increased pressure from the weight of the water column at that depth, in complete darkness and frigid temperatures.

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