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The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the word 'desert' is the vast outstretch of sandy landscape without water. But here is a twist. Something different is found in the heart of South Pacific Ocean. There exists a place, aloof from land, where someone can hardly hope to get himself. This can be said 'Ocean Desert'.

It is the 'oceanic pole inaccessibility' (48°52.5′S 123°23.6′W), that is the farthest place from the land, located in the South Pacific Ocean. This place is also known as 'Point Nemo' which is derived from Latin, meaning "no one". The point is located about 2,593 kilometres (or 1,400 nmi.) far away from its nearest landmass.

This remotest point lies at the 'South Pacific Gyre'. It is a system of rotating ocean current of the Earth, a this is the biggest of the total five ocean current gyre. It is bounded by the equator at its north, Antarctic current in the south, Australia and New Zealand in the west, and South America in the east. This gyre is basically referred as 'ocean desert' in terms of marine biology.

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Brief about the 'South Pacific Gyre'

However, because of some specific factors, the organic lives do live deep into the ocean waves and in the seabeds, whether infrequently. This consists of high UV level in this farthest part of the ocean. Though it is not so much clear to the scientists about the inhabitation of the South Pacific Gyre, mostly because of the extremely remoteness and its vast extent of almost 14 million square miles (or 37 million square kilometres), even the South Pacific Gyre is the least studied ocean region of the Earth.

Despite these adversities, scientists have revealed the existence of some kind of micro organism in the said 'desert' location of the South Pacific Ocean, based on a six-week long research by R/V Sonne, a German based research vessel from December 2015 to January 2016. The 7,000 kilometres long way from Chile to New Zealand was led by Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

The findings have reported in the journal 'Environmental Microbiology', entitled as 'On-Site Analysis of Bacterial Communities of the Ultraoligotrophic South Pacific Gyre'.


Methods used

The crew researchers collected the water samples from a total of 15 stations. They used sampling methods, physicochemical data analysis, DNA extraction, PCR, size selection, and quantification, and other statistical analysis methods which allowed the researchers to identify the microbial clades.


Findings of the research

The research team has identified the domination of 20 major bacterial clades within the area of South Pacific Gyre. This bacterial community includes SAR11, SAR202, SAR116, Prochlorococcus, the AEGEAN-169 marine group, SAR86, SAR324, SAR406, many others.

They found that the vertical distribution of the microbial community is more than that of the longitudinal distribution. These are found much at the depth of between 20 to 5,000 metres., but within 80°W to 160°W. The researchers predict that such type of distribution pattern is mainly due to the variation of different factors, e.g., water temperature, availability of light, nutrient concentration, and others.


In this regard, it is important to mention that, the microbial community named as AEGEAN-169 marine group is majorly founded in the surface water of that region, but surprisingly the same was found at nearly 500 metres depth during previous research. Thus the researchers speculate about the  potentiality of the adaptation to high solar irradiance and ultraoligotrophic waters which refers to the water with low biological productivity.

The whole research postulates that the South Pacific Gyre is relatively low in plant nutrients and
circumscribe the growth of biological productivity of oligotrophic organisms. Thus the 'South Pacific Gyre' act as an unique as well as ultraoligotrophic habitat for the said organic creatures.


Thenceforth, South Pacific Gyre can be considered as the largest 'ocean desert' of the world. But alongside, the only good thing about it is that, lacking vivacity of South Pacific Gyre is deliberated to be the clearest oceanic water in allover the world.

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