Scientists have found a hydrothermal vent community three miles beneath the sea near the Cayman Islands. Other vents have led to the discovery of new and exotic creatures.
National Oceanography Centre/AP
Researchers have not yet formally published the results of their expedition. But elsewhere, "black smokers" – towering, two-story-tall vents spewing mineral-rich, superheated water into the inky darkness around them – are oases of life for organisms ranging from bacteria to crabs and giant tube worms.
The sight of these vents three miles beneath the surface, as seen through videos from an unmanned submersible dubbed HyBIS, "was awe-inspiring," according to a statement from Jon Copley, a University of Southampton marine scientist and one of the expedition's leaders.
While new species crop up with regularity from tropical rain forests, those discoveries are often incremental. "Invariably, it's going to be an insect, and chances are it's going to be a beetle," says Paul Tyler, another of the leaders of the expedition, during a phone conversation from his cabin aboard the British research vessel RSS James Cook.
Page 1 of 4