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Images: "Nothing Could Diminish the Excitement Of Seeing the Animals for the First Time"

Top to bottom: Scientists from a wide range of disciplines (here pausing for an informal dinner on deck) assembled for the first expedition to study hydrothermal vent ecosystems in 1979. WHOI’s submersible Alvin was extensively modified to accommodate new equipment for the biological dives. Alvin 's deployed between the catamarans of its original tender, Lulu.

A flourishing colony of the red-tipped tubeworm Riftia pachyptila.

Biologist Fred Grassle dives to the vents in 1979 aboard Alvin.

Alvin?s meter-long temperature probe extends toward a community of galatheid crabs perched atop pillow lava and a dense field of mussels

Minnow-baited traps proved quite successful for capturing crab specimens for physiological studies.

Bob Ballard examines a tubeworm several meters long, brought to the surface by Alvin.

A respirometer measures the oxygen uptake of mussels and hence their metabolism rates. Scientists found that despite the high pressure and low temperature of the deep, the respiration rates of vent animals were generally comparable to those in shallow-water animals