The dark color of the water spewing forth from these vents has earned them the name, "black smokers". The real surprise was the discovery that a myriad of life forms actually live and thrive around these vents, totally cut off from the world of sunlight. Incredible deep-sea creatures have been known for quite some time. But these animals all depended on the regions above for their sustenance. They feed on small scraps of food and dead animals that fall from above. Here at the vents, though, something entirely different was taking place. These organisms were getting their food directly from the vents themselves.
This process is known as chemosynthesis.
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Bacteria in the water actually feed on what would otherwise be a lethal soup of noxious chemicals. Smaller animals feed on these bacteria, and these smaller animals provide food for the larger animals. It is an entire ecosystem totally separate from the world of light. A large number of strange and wondrous creatures have been found at these vent sites.
Giant tube worms eight feet tall dominate the landscape. Tiny bacteria living inside make food for the worms. Small shrimps and crabs feed on the tube worms. Clams cover the ocean floor. These waters are so fertile that shrimps have been known to literally number in the millions near these vents. To search this site, type your search word s in the box below and click the search button:. All rights reserved. Content from this Website may not be used in any form without written permission from the site owner. OpenLearn works with other organisations by providing free courses and resources that support our mission of opening up educational opportunities to more people in more places.
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Hydrothermal vents and the origins of life | Feature | Chemistry World
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Figure 2 A black smoker. Figure 3 A colony of tube worms close to a black smoker. Previous 2. Next 3 Making notes. Print page.
Scientists probe Southern Ocean black smokers for first time
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