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shrimp crowd a vent chimney at Snake Pit

Deep-Sea Traffic Jam

Thousands of shrimp (Rimicaris exoculata) crowd around a black smoker at the Snake Pit hydrothermal vent field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The dark material gushing out of the chimney is rich in sulfides and other minerals. WHOI microbial ecologist Stefan Sievert and colleagues recently identified more than a dozen kinds of bacteria living in the gill chambers of the shrimp. Some of those bacteria have the ability to metabolize sulfides and other mineral compounds, raising the possibility that they help nourish the shrimp through a symbiotic association. The shrimp, in return, may help the bacteria survive by keeping them near the sulfide-rich stream of vent fluid. (Photo courtesy of Alvin team, dive 2192, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution )


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