Tag Archives: Dr Jon Copley

New Life in the Deep Sea … and in the Dark

A last minute power cut at The Tea Bar was not enough to stop an interesting talk for Basingstoke Cafe Scientifique. On Monday 28th April, Dr Jon Copley from the University of Southampton Oceanographic Centre gave a talk titled “New Life and Resources in the Deep Sea”.  When told the power would be going out in half an hour, Dr Copley quickly changed his talk to include a science pub quiz about the deep oceans and the life and resources to be found there.  Among the questions asked, many of us were very surprised to find out that the average depth of the oceans is about 3,800 metres or just over 2.25 miles.

This was one of the many monthly talks that are arranged by Basingstoke Cafe Scientifique to encourage public engagement in science and technology in a cafe environment.  A description of this talk and the others coming up in the future (including those by other local groups) can be found on the Cafe Scientifique Meetup web site at:


During the talk, Dr Copley described his experiences in deep sea diving vessels and passed around some preserved samples of a few of the deep sea creatures collected during these trips. He also discussed how this is something that has only been possible since the 1930’s with the development of the Bathysphere that took humans below 200 metres for the first time.  He then asked us some questions about how much of the oceans we thought had been mapped. Many of us were surprised at the answers that only around 10 percent of the deep sea had been mapped to a 100 metre scale and less than 0.02% (about the size of Tasmania) to a finer scale.  He went on to discuss how this meant there is still much more to discover in the future and resources to explore.

As part of the talk, Dr Copley also considered how the world’s climate is affected by the seas as a store of the suns energy. He started this with some quiz questions on how far down we thought the suns light penetrates into the sea.  We were interested to discover the answer that most photosynthesizing life has to live in the top 30 metres of the sea and that there is still some faint light down to a depth of 1,000 metres. We also found out that the only other light at even greater depths was that in fibre optic cables which carried 97% of the world’s communications traffic.

The talk was followed by an interesting debate among the 50 plus people attending the talk which considered many questions raised over the evening. Unfortunately, the discussions had to be brought to a close slightly earlier than usual due to the fading light.  A video of the talk and debate was filmed on the night which will be made available for purchase on the Cafe Scientifique web site (www.cafesci-basingstoke.org.uk) in due course.