In April-May 2005, Cruise TUIM05MV (R/V Melville and DSV Jason2) conducted the first detailed sampling and characterization of multiple vent fields along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center, Lau Basin in the SW Pacific Ocean. Primary cruise objectives were to explore the links between geology, geochemistry, microbiology and macrofaunal populations at six hydrothermal vent fields in this back-arc basin.
This population of brisingid seastars (Novodinia antillensis) was sited directly atop the basement volcanic (basalt) substrate in a region of quiescent hydrothermal activity. Structure is an important variable determining local distributions of marine invertebrates in both shallow and deep-sea environments. Exposed substratum can facilitate attachment, food capture, protection from predators and may help in finding a suitable mate. (Copyright 2005 Paul R. Craddock)