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Life at Vents & Seeps


Gar Secrist

Gar Secrist

Gar Secrist says that he spent his summer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) working on “sandwiches.” His weren’t ordered…

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ALISS in Wonderland

ALISS in Wonderland

In 1985, Cindy Van Dover, then a graduate student in biology in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, discovered a novel light-sensing organ on a unique species of shrimp that lives at high-temperature, black smoker chimneys on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. If this photoreceptor were indeed some sort of primitive “eye,” the question instantly arose: At depths of some 3,600 meters, where sunlight cannot penetrate, what are these shrimp looking at? The search for a source of light in deep-sea hydrothermal environments began.

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Deep-Sea Diaspora

Deep-Sea Diaspora

When spectacular biological communities were first discovered at hydrothermal vents in 1977, biologists puzzled over two main questions: How did these oases of large and abundant animals persist in the deep sea, where food is typically scarce? And how did these unusual species, which occur only at vents, manage to colonize new vents and avoid extinction when old vents shut down?

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