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15.17: Hydrothermal Vents

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    • Contributed by Miracosta Oceanography 101
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    Hydrothermal Vents

    Hydrothermal vent communities on the deep sea have an abundance of “unusual” life forms (unlike anything in coastal environments). Life around deep-sea vents are supported by chemosynthesis (primary production not supported by photosynthesis). Microscopic organisms (base of local food chain) thrive on hydrogen sulfide from vents. Microbes manufacture sugar, carbon dioxide, and dissolved oxygen.

    Hydrothermal vent species (secondary consumers and decomposers) include:
    • Giant tubeworms
    • Giant clams
    • Giant mussels
    • Crabs.

    Hydrothermal vents may active for years or decades.
    Animals species are similar at widely separated vents.
    Larvae from vent communities drift from site to site.

    hydrothermal vent community
    Figure 15.70. Hydrothermal vent community.