Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: 'Hydrothermal seep'

Date:
March 7, 2012
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Decades ago, marine scientists made a startling discovery in the deep sea. They found environments known as hydrothermal vents, where hot water surges from the seafloor and life thrives without sunlight.

Anemone-hermit crab symbiosis in the deep, with the crab using the anemone as a shell.
Credit: Copyright Greg Rouse/SIO

Decades ago, marine scientists made a startling discovery in the deep sea. They found environments known as hydrothermal vents, where hot water surges from the seafloor and life thrives without sunlight.

Related Articles


Then they found equally unique, sunless habitats in cold areas where methane rises from seeps on the ocean bottom.

Could vents and seeps co-exist in the deep, happily living side-by-side?

No one thought so. Until now.

That's exactly what researchers uncovered during a submersible expedition off Costa Rica. They've coined a new term to describe the ecosystem: a hydrothermal seep.

A description of the scientists' findings, including a large number of deep-sea species that previously had not been described, is published in a paper by Lisa Levin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., and colleagues.

The paper appears in the March 7, 2012, issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Levin and the team were surprised to find a hybrid site in an area where only cold seeps had been reported.

"The discovery shows that we still have much to learn about hydrothermal vents and methane seeps and about the vast depths of the oceans," said David Garrison, director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Biological Oceanography Program, which funded the research.

"We need to re-think the boundary," he said, "of where a vent begins or a seep ends."

The most interesting aspects of the site, said Levin, "are the presence of vent-like and seep-like features together, a vast cover of tubeworms across large areas, and a wealth of new species."

Called Jaco Scar, the site lies at a tectonic plate margin off Costa Rica. There an underwater mountain, or seamount, is moving under the tectonic plate.

Jaco Scar's animals range from those that inhabit hot vents or cold seeps, to species that exist in both settings.

In addition to tube worms, the team documented deep-sea fish, mussels, clam beds and high densities of crabs.

Because so little is known about the deep ocean, the researchers say it's likely that other hybrid or "mosaic" ecosystems remain undiscovered, possibly with marine life specialized to live in such environments.

"Plenty of surprises are left in the deep sea," said Levin. "There are new species, and almost certainly new ecosystems, hidden in the oceans."

The human presence in Alvin, a submersible, deep-diving research craft was key to the findings.

"The site had been visited by other researchers using remotely-operated vehicles," said Levin, "but it wasn't until human eyes saw shimmering water flowing under a tubeworm 'bush' that we really understood how special Jaco Scar is."

Co-authors of the paper include Greg Rouse, Geoffrey Cook and Ben Grupe of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Victoria Orphan and Grayson Chadwick of the California Institute of Technology; Anthony Rathburn of Indiana State University; William Ussler III of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; Shana Goffredi of Occidental College; Elena Perez of the Natural History Museum in London; Anders Waren of the Swedish Museum of Natural History; and Bruce Strickrott of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The research was also supported by the Center for Research in Marine Sciences and Limnology, University of Costa Rica.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. A. Levin, V. J. Orphan, G. W. Rouse, A. E. Rathburn, W. Ussler, G. S. Cook, S. K. Goffredi, E. M. Perez, A. Waren, B. M. Grupe, G. Chadwick, B. Strickrott. A hydrothermal seep on the Costa Rica margin: middle ground in a continuum of reducing ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0205

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: 'Hydrothermal seep'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307132243.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2012, March 7). Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: 'Hydrothermal seep'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307132243.htm
National Science Foundation. "Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: 'Hydrothermal seep'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307132243.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Running Hot and Cold in the Deep Sea: Scientists Explore Rare Environment

Mar. 6, 2012 It's extremely rare to find hot hydrothermal vents and cold methane seeps intersecting in one place, but that's what researchers found and explored during an expedition in 2010. A ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins