Daily Update: Animal patterns at hydrothermal vents
23 deg 52.7S
Longitude: 69 deg 35.7E
Wind Direction: S
Wind Speed: 12 Knots
Sea State 1
Swell(s) Height: 5-7 Foot
Sea Temperature: 79°F (26.1°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1016.1 MB
Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles
By Amy Nevala
We collected many shrimp, bacteria and other organisms at our
first research site, so why last night did we move to another
potential hydrothermal vent area in the Indian Ocean?
One of our scientific objectives is to see how vent
organisms in the Indian Ocean relate to and differ from organisms
at Pacific and Atlantic Ocean vents. Another is to see how organisms
differ between vent sites in the Indian Ocean.
want to learn the distribution patterns of animals and what causes
those patterns to exist, a branch of science called biogeography.
Studying only one vent site is not enough. It would be like visiting
Michigan and concluding that every state in America is flat,
covered in leafy trees and surrounded by fresh water lakes.
The same concept is true at hydrothermal vent sites.
Just like trees and geographic features vary from place to place
on land, we know from studies in the
Eastern Pacific Ocean that animal species can differ from vent site to vent site, said
Biologist Tim Shank.
Tim has studied vent shrimp and other animals along
the East Pacific Rise, located offshore Mexico. At 13°N, he saw many mussels.
But looking north nearly 500 miles, we saw a big difference in the distribution
of animals, said Tim. We saw mostly clams and tube worms, but no
sign of a mussel.
Tonight we are at a second site on the Central Indian
Ridge, located about 80 nautical miles north of the Kairei Vent
Field. Will the fauna be the same at this deeper site? Maybe clams
or tube worms live here, animals we did not find at Kairei. Or
perhaps we will see now-familiar mussels, shrimp and crabs?
The Plume Team hit the ground running when we arrived
at 24°S last night
under a star-littered sky. Plume Team members Bob Collier, Marvin Lilley and
Darryl Green worked until late afternoon today narrowing our search area on the
eastern wall of the rift valley.
Tonight, we will send Jason down to explore. If we
find a vent, it will be only the second hydrothermal vent site
ever found and explored in the Indian Ocean.
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