Scientists find new ecosystem ‘The Trapping Zone’ in Maldives

The Trapping Zone - Maldives: Recently, scientists reported the discovery of ‘The Trapping Zone’ in the island nation Maldives.

Key Points:

  • It was 500 metres below the surface and was called ‘a paradise of oceanic life.
  • It was discovered by scientists under the Nekton Maldives Mission.
  • The scientists spotted the ecosystem using the camera on the submersible named Omega Seamaster II.
  • Biological samples were also collected for further research.
  • The data collected during the expedition is reportedly being analysed in the Maldives, Nekton’s UK headquarters in Oxford and at partner laboratories.

What are Nektons?

Nektons are pelagic faunal species (i.e. animals living in the open seas away from the shore) that are capable of swimming independently of wind and water currents. Some examples include bony fishes and sharks (under chordate nekton category), octopuses and squids (under molluscan nekton category) and shrimps and lobsters (under arthropod nekton category).

About the discovery:

  • After performing extensive sonar mapping, the scientists discovered megafauna predators like sharks and other huge fish feeding on swarms of micro-nekton.
  • According to the scientists, these organisms are trapped at the 500 m mark, by the subaerial terrain.
  • These usually migrate from the deep sea to the surface at night and back into the deep at dawn, this phenomenon is known as Vertical Migration.
  • However, they are prevented from diving deeper by the subsea features like the cliffs, terraces, volcanic structures and fossilized carbonate reefs, forming the base of the atolls.
  • These trapped animals are then targeted by megafauna and large pelagic predators including schools of sharks and tuna and large deep-water fish like spiky oreos and alfonsino.
  • While scientists have found sharks in shallow waters in the Maldives, this is the first instance that they were able to document “an immense diversity of sharks in the deep sea”.
  • They also documented tiger sharks, six-gill sharks, sand tiger sharks, dogfish, gulper sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and the very rare bramble shark. 


  • This discovery is significant given the critical knowledge of sub-surface biodiversity would further support conservation efforts and encourage sustainable ocean management.
  • It also has important implications for other islands as well, including aspects like slopes of continents, sustainable fisheries management, and the burial and storage of carbon, which could help mitigate climate change someday
  • In addition, it would boost the country’s fisheries and tourism sectors.