Occasional, but massive, explosions of sea-surface life provide a feast for creatures on the ocean floor, such as sea cucumbers and urchins. Normally, animals in the depths live a Spartan existence, getting by on crumbs from above. However, oceanographers recently discovered that after surface population booms die, they drift down to give deep sea life a smorgasbord equal to years of the normal food supply.
The daily routine of a sea cucumber, or any other ocean bottom animal, consists of scrounging around for morsels that constantly drift down into the abyss. This detritus is known as "marine snow," but no human would want to catch these flakes on their tongue. The marine snow consists of decaying plants and animals, feces and other bits of nastiness.
PHOTOS: Life on the Ocean Floor Garbage Patch
The snow becomes a blizzard occasionally, according to 24 years of observations of the seafloor 4,000 meters deep and 220 kilometers (140 miles) west of the central California coast by Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute oceanographers. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) published their work.