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tubeworm colony

Near Galapagos, 1979, a new world found

Before the discovery of hydrothermal vents in 1979, no one expected to see abundant life in the deep sea, where darkness and cold temperatures reign. But chemical-rich fluids gushing from hydrothermal vents provide energy for lush communities of organisms—like red-and-white tubeworms that have no digestive system, surviving on internal bacteria that use chemicals rather than sunlight for energy. Scientists are concerned that deep seafloor mining near vent sites could damage these communities. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

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