Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box


Clione limacina
Solmissus marshalli

The midwater, or all the ocean water below the surface and above the deep-sea floor, is the largest habitat on earth by volume. As such, the midwater is a critical piece of our global climate and the primary sink for excess carbon dioxide built up in our atmosphere. The midwater is full of amazing organisms that, in most cases, live very different lives than the organisms we are familiar with. These organisms play critical roles in the function of the ocean. Despite the importance of the midwater, little is known about the organisms that live there because it is a difficult and expensive place to study.

This lab works to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the animals that live in the midwater in order to understand how the oceans function and how we can keep them healthy. We ask basic questions such as: who lives in the midwater, how did they get there and how are they sustained, what is their role in the function of the midwater communities, and how have they adapted to this very different habitat. Explore these pages to find out more about our projects and people.