Friday, 30 December 2011

Deep-sea creatures at volcanic vent

Remarkable images of life from one of the most inhospitable spots in the ocean have been captured by scientists.


Researchers have been surveying volcanic underwater vents - sometimes called black smokers - in the South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean.

The UK team found an array of creatures living in the super-heated waters, including yeti crabs, scaly-foot snails and sea cucumbers.

They believe some of the species may be new to science.

Hydrothermal vents were first discovered in 1977. These fissures in the ocean floor spew out fiercely hot, mineral-rich water, yet somehow, diverse ecosystems are able to thrive in these hostile conditions.

The team, from the University of Southampton, was particularly interested in the vents on the South West Indian Ridge because this range is linked to the Mid Atlantic Ridge and the Central Indian Ridge, where vent life has been well documented.


This area is also unusual because it is an "ultra-slow spreading" ridge, which means it is less volcanically active than other ridges, with fewer vents that are further apart.

Dr Jon Copley, chief scientist of the Indian Ocean vents project, said: "This place is a real crossroads in terms of the vent species around the world."

Using a remote-operated, underwater robot called Kiel 6000, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM Geomar), in Germany, the team was able to train their cameras on the vents.

Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16267625

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis