been telling you that algae are at the base of all aquatic food
webs and that all aquatic life is dependant upon their ability to
photosynthesize. Well, we have been holding back.
In 1977, scientists discovered communities
of organisms living 7,000 feet below the surface of the ocean
in total darkness. These communities were centered around deep
hydrothermal vents much like the geyser, Old Faithful. Mineral-rich
water spews out of the vents at temperatures of up to 750o Fahrenheit
and is more acidic than vinegar. Thanks to the ambient pressure
of about 3,300 pounds per square inch, the water doesn’t
boil. Definitely a tough place to live.
|The basis of life at hydrothermal vents is Archaea
bacteria. We call them bacteria, but they are as genetically different
from most other bacteria as you are from a head of lettuce. These
Archaea convert hydrogen sulfide into energy via chemical reactions
much like plants convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy.
To exist in the extreme environment below the sea, you must either
eat the Archaea (directly or indirectly) or use them to make food
for you, like the 9 foot long tubeworms do.
gasses, temperatures of up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, more
acidic than vinegar … and teeming with life. Who needs
the sun when you’ve got all of this?
Tubeworms that occupy the areas around the vents
have a symbiotic relationship with the Archaea. The tubeworms
rely on Archaea present inside their bodies to produce energy
for them. The Archaea get exposed to high concentrations of hydrogen
sulfide, thanks to the tubeworm’s filtering apparatus.
This is all done without the sun, in total darkness. No plant
energy is required down there. All that’s needed is hydrogen
sulfide and carbon dioxide. Oh, and a little oxygen. That comes
from...well...photosynthesis. For that you need algae. I suppose
we’ll have to keep the sun around for a while longer.
information, click here
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2002 Water Line
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