Some of our planet’s weirdest creatures live in incredible environments on the deep ocean floor. Take this sea creature for example. It inhabits hydrothermal vents, often one mile and more below the water’s surface. Hydrothermal vents are a relatively new discovery that first came to light in 1977, in waters near the Galapagos Islands. The natural phenomena occur when underwater volcanoes cause cracks to form in the ocean floor. Jets of seawater spurt out from these rocky “chimneys,” superheated by the molten rock.
On the face of it, these environments are deeply hostile to life. And yet, to their astonishment, scientists have discovered a wealth of life forms living around the vents, many of them previously unrecorded by science. Newly discovered organisms include species of shrimps, huge tube worms and clams.
In order to survive, the vast majority of life on Earth depends on sunlight and the energy that it provides. But life forms that cluster around hydrothermal vents actually get their energy and sustenance from bacteria. Moreover, these bacteria feed on chemical compounds like hydrogen sulfide, which is actually highly poisonous to most other animals. Nevertheless, a complex variety of undersea life is using these bacteria to thrive.