The question as to whether the organic matter in the sea bottom is inert or is available as a nutrient for the bottom fauna and bottom-inhabiting bacteria is a problem of special interest in the cycle of life in the sea. A number of marine animals, making up the benthos or the bottom fauna, must depend upon this organic matter for their nutrition while the sea bottom also harbors an extensive bacterial population which require the energy to be derived from various nutrient elements for cell synthesis and respiration.
Waksman, Selman A., and Margaret Hotchkiss. 1938. "On the oxidation of organic matter in marine sediments by bacteria." Journal of Marine Research 1, (2). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/523