Wildlife of a black smoker
Meet the inhabitants of hydrothermal vents
Deep at the bottom of the ocean, in pitch blackness, under crushing pressure and swimming in a cocktail of toxic chemicals flourishes an oasis of alien life. The biomass equivalent to a rainforest, out of the bleak silty plains of the ocean floor suddenly rise giant chimneys that spew billows of superheated water into the freezing sea. Surrounding them is one of the most unique communities of animals on the planet. Flashes of colour, flurries of activity and a complex food web are not supported by the life-giving sunlight that we are used to on the surface but by the nutrients that seep from within the centre of the Earth. Welcome to the shadows of the hydrothermal vents.
When looking at a world map of vent locations it’s easy to see how they track the borders of tectonic plates