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Large deep-sea mussels

Buff Mussels

These deep-sea mussels were collected on an Alvin dive to the Florida Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico. This rocky platform, 1.6 miles below the surface, is made of long-dead corals, mollusks, fish skeletons, and other organic matter that accumulated over geological time. Through cracks and fissures in the carbonate bulwark, groundwater that has percolated through Florida seeps into the ocean. This water is full of chemicals that sustain microbes. living inside animals such as mussels, clams, and tubeworms, microbes use some of the chemicals for energy to make food from other chemicals. The food nourishes the animals, which provide the microbes a dwelling and a constant supply of chemicals. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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