What we’ve missed in the Abyss: Mining 40 years of cruise reports for biodiversity and research effort data from deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

“When the RV Knorr set sail for the Galapagos Rift in 1977, the geologists aboard eagerly anticipated observing a deep-sea hydrothermal vent field for the first time. What they did not expect to find was life—abundant and unlike anything ever seen before. A series of dives aboard the HOV Alvin during that expedition revealed not only deep-sea hydrothermal vents but fields of clams and the towering, bright red tubeworms that would become icons of the deep sea. So unexpected was the discovery of these vibrant ecosystems that the ship carried no biological preservatives. The first specimens from the vent field that would soon be named “Garden of Eden” were fixed in vodka from the scientists’ private reserves.”

Thaler and Amon 2019

In the forty years since that first discovery, hundreds of research expedition ventured into the deep oceans to study and understand the ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. In doing so, they discovered thousands of new species, unraveled the secrets of chemosynthesis, and fundamentally altered our understanding of what it means to be alive on this planet. Now, as deep-sea mining crawls slowly towards production, we must transform those discoveries into conservation and management principles to safeguard the diversity and resilience of life in the deep sea.

Biodiversity of hydrothermal vents from around the world. Top: Indian Ocean, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Juan de Fuca Ridge. Bottom: East Pacific Rise, Southwest Pacific, Southern Ocean. Photo credits (top left to bottom right): University of Southampton; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Ocean Networks Canada; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Nautilus Minerals; University of Southampton.
Biodiversity of hydrothermal vents from around the world. Top: Indian Ocean, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Juan de Fuca Ridge. Bottom: East Pacific Rise, Southwest Pacific, Southern Ocean. Photo credits (top left to bottom right): University of Southampton; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Ocean Networks Canada; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Nautilus Minerals; University of Southampton.

Though research at hydrothermal vents looms large in the disciplines of deep-sea science, relative to almost any terrestrial system, they are practically unexplored. Over the last 2 years, Drs. Andrew Thaler and Diva Amon have poured through every available cruise report that made a biological observation at the deep-sea hydrothermal vent to assess how disproportionate research effort shapes or perception of hydrothermal vent ecosystems and impacts how we make management decisions in the wake of a new form of anthropogenic disturbance.

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Get into the spirit of Adventure: 10 Expeditions to follow in 2019

The Aquarius Project: The First Student-Driven Underwater Meteorite Hunt

Pirates! Robots! Meteors! A team of plucky teenage explorers! If this doesn’t end up as a feature film, I’ll eat my red watch cap.

On Monday, February 6, 2017 a meteorite dropped out of space and dropped right into Lake Michigan. Since then, a team of young explorers sponsored by the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium have been combing the lake for the lost meteorite. Catch up with this epic adventure through their podcast and on OpenExplorer. The search continues into 2019.

Iceland’s Shallow Hydrothermal Vents

Not all hydrothermal vents emerge in the deep sea. Of the coast of Iceland, shallow water vent spew forth their hydrothermal plumes in the shallows, where small underwater robots can easy access. You’d think we’d know more about them than their deep ocean counterparts but we actually know less.

Iceland’s Shallow Hydrothermal Vents hopes to fill in some of our understanding of these weird and wonderful ecosystems.

Search for Slave Shipwrecks

On a hot summer day in the murky waters of the man-made Millbrook Quarry in Northern Virginia, a group of about 25 people outfitted in scuba gear take turns going down to a depth of 30 feet, testing their compass reading skills, flooding their masks and practicing emergency ascents without air. The sight is not so unusual since Millbrook is the main training and certification site for scuba divers in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area and often hosts such groups. What might give folks pause, however, is that upon closer look they may notice that all 25 of the divers are African American. And if they chat with this unexpected bunch, they might also find that a majority are certified and qualified to search for, document and help excavate slave trade shipwrecks.

Search for Slave Shipwrecks

Divers with Purpose and the Slave Wrecks Project will be traveling across Africa and the Caribbean documenting the stories of underwater archaeologists working to preserve the history of the Atlantic slave trade buried at sea.

From Search for Slave Shipwrecks.
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Youth v Gov, thinking about oysters, how to talk climate change to radicalized conservatives, delightful dumbo octopuses, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: October 29, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

A lava flow detected in the Mariana back-arc that’s evidence for the deepest historic eruption ever detected. Photo: Courtesy Bill Chadwick

A lava flow detected in the Mariana back-arc that’s evidence for the deepest historic eruption ever detected. Photo: Courtesy Bill Chadwick.

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How goats got the bends, a new ship for VIMS, a new deep-sea submersible for all of us, our looming destruction, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: October 15, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Bends in the foreleg of a goat after experiments performed by physiologist John S. Haldane, published in the Journal of Hygiene Vol. 8, 1908.

Bends in the foreleg of a goat after experiments performed by physiologist John S. Haldane, published in the Journal of Hygiene Vol. 8, 1908.

Submersible. Photo courtesy Discovery.

Photo courtesy Discovery.

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A new disaster in Ocean Policy, follow the International Marine Conservation Congress at #IMCC5, shallow vents, deep mining, cotton candy lobsters, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: June 25, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web)

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Bone-eating Jabba worms, the world’s deepest plastic bag, new shipwrecks, climate change art, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: May 14, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Osedax worms growing on the vertebrae of a dead whale.
Photo: 2006 MBARI

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Hagfish, chill Puffins, swamp monsters, the mining boat floats, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 2, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • Want to help stem the tide of misinformation online and off? Do you have it all figured out and just need resources to implement your world-saving solution? The Rita Allen Foundation is looking for Solutions to Curb the Spread of Misinformation.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

Beware the Feu Follet, by Russell Arnott

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Open Science in Africa, defend the ADA, the value of the outdoors, Minke whale rides, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: February 19, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • In the annuals of obvious thing that still need to be said: protecting wild places is better for Americans and better for the economy than strip mining them. Outdoor Recreation Is a Bigger Economic Booster Than Mining.
  • The Cousteau Society shares a great little clip of all the great Cousteau tech.

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Skate saunas, clone armies, deep news from deep-sea mining, an ocean of plastic, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: February 12, 2018.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Ranja Andriantsoa/The Atlantic

ROV framegrab of Pacific white skate egg sacs near a black smoker in the Galapagos. Photo Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust

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Snot Bots for whale health, critical dolphins, lobster considerations, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 15, 2018.

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Screen cap of linked tweet.

Ice balls and slush waves.

Paul May via Storyful.

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