American Oceans

Crabs Lead Scientists to Undiscovered Hot Springs in the Ocean

a hydrothermal vent underwater

In a recent scientific discovery, researchers found a new hydrothermal vent field in the Galápagos by following the trail of galatheid crabs, also known as squat lobsters. The vent field is located in the Galápagos Spreading Center (GSC), a divergent boundary situated between the Cocos and Nazca tectonic plates, approximately 250 miles north of the Galápagos Islands. These ghostly white crustaceans tend to congregate around deep-sea vents, and their presence led the team to uncover a field spanning over 98,800 square feet (9,178 square meters), nicknamed the “Sendero del Cangrejo” or “Trail of the Crabs.”

The exploration, organized by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, focused on the same region where the first hydrothermal vent field was identified in 1977 within the Eastern GSC. Interestingly, there are around 550 known hydrothermal vents worldwide, yet only half of them have been visually confirmed. These vents typically host thriving ecosystems. In this particular vent field, the researchers discovered giant tube worms, large clams, and mussels. The team plans to spend the next few years analyzing the data gathered from this remarkable discovery to help further our understanding of such remote underwater environments

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