The term benthos is derived from the Greek, meaning 'depths of the sea' and refers collectively to organisms which live on, in, or near the bottom of the sea.


The benthic community includes of a wide range of plants, animals and bacteria. They are classified into 3 categories

  • infauna - organisms that live in the sediment
  • epifauna - organisms which either attach to the bottom or substrate; move within the sediment; or that live on the sediment surface
  • demersal - fish that feed on the benthic infauna and epifauna

Studying the benthos is difficult because much of the ocean floor is too deep for SCUBA divers. Recently, scientists on our voyages have taken some amazing pictures of the seafloor with a remotely operated vehicle.



Benthic ecosystems of the Southern Ocean.  Credit: Australian Government Antarctic Division, 2004

Demonstration projects

Benthos octopus [PDF, 60 KB]

Benthos pycnogonids [PDF, 66 KB]

Benthos Chilean genetics [PDF, 408KB]

Sampling protocols

Benthos sampling [PDF, 173 KB]

Benthos deep sampling [PDF, 138 KB]



Cousteau ATS International Polar Year 2007-2008 SCAR MarBin CCAMLR SCAR COMNAP Census of Marine Life