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partly sunny
Today's Weather
Blue Sky, Detached Clouds
Lat: 00° 47.59N
Long: 086° 07.75W
Wind: S
Sea State: 3
Swell Height: 4-7ft
Baro Press: 1010.6 MB
Air Temp: 24.6°C 76.3°F
Sea Temp: 26.5°C 79.8°F
Vis: 10nm

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Watch for the solution tomorrow.

what's to eat?

Worms Thrive in the Garden of Eden
May 28, 2005
By Amy Nevala

Biologist Tim Shank was catching up on email before lunch when the phone rang from the top lab, where members of the Alvin group communicate with the submersible during a dive. As Tim listened to the caller, a smile lit up his face.

“They found tubeworms—some six feet long—at the Garden of Eden,” Tim said when he hung up. Garden of Eden, about half the size of a football field, was one of the original sites discovered in 1977 by awestruck oceanographers who named it for its lush community of tubeworms, mussels, and limpets.

It is one of the oldest-known vent fields on the Galapagos Rift, a place Tim said was last visited around 1985. En route to unexplored territory this morning east of Mussel Bed, divers in Alvin crossed its path and stopped to observe how things have changed in two decades.

“It’s thrilling for biologists because now we have animals from this older field to compare with animals on Rosebud, which is only about five years old,” said Tim, who studies vent community patterns of development over time.

“It’s like trying to figure out how a human grows and develops,” he said. “You’ve got to look at different life stages, when the person is an infant, toddler, teenager and into old age, to get a clear picture.”

Biologist Stace Beaulieu, one of today’s divers, said that Garden of Eden looked very different than Rosebud, which is still relatively young.

“We saw huge, white mats of bacteria with these hair-like filaments that moved with the water flow, like fields of wheat,” she said. Volcanologist Adam Soule, the other scientist in Alvin, said he was most surprised by the height of the tubeworms.

“They were amazingly tall,” he said, demonstrating their size by standing tiptoe and holding his hand high above his head.

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An amphianthid anemone lives among live mussels at the Rosebud hydrothermal vent field.

Adam, Stace, and Alvin pilot Bruce Strickrott were greeted with applause this evening. The basket arrived loaded with samples collected from Garden of Eden, including chemical and temperature data, water samples, three rocks, seven mussels, and nine tubeworms. Like all samples collected during our expedition, they will be carefully preserved, or dissected, labeled and frozen for further analysis on shore when we return in a week.

Gathering the samples and surveying Garden of Eden took nearly four hours, leaving little time for the original plan to explore further east.

“We’re definitely heading back there tomorrow for more exploration,” Tim said.

Mail Buoy

Do you have questions about oceanographic research, hydrothermal vents, or about what it is like to work on board a ship? E-mail your questions to the scientists working on board RV Atlantis at Please tell us your town and state, and keep your messages short with no attachments. Read today's mail »