Organisms: The only cause of scattering layers?



The cover of the March 1, 1988, issue of Eos depicted a time series of acoustic transects showing so-called “scattering layers” above southeast Hancock Seamount (Hawaiian chain). The interpretation of scattering layers in seawater is probably worth some serious debate, which might lead to a better understanding of (among other things) the workings (dynamics) of seamounts.

There is no reason to doubt that pelagic organisms abound over seamounts. The questions that need to be answered, however, are the following:

  • Are all acoustic scatterers in the seawater above seamounts necessarily organisms?
  • Why do organisms abound over seamounts?