Collection Manager David Staples has recently returned from a six-week voyage with a team of British scientists studying the marine life on seamounts and hydrothermal vents in the southern Indian Ocean.
Hydrothermal vents are associated with active spreading centres of tectonic plate boundaries and are often referred to as black (or white) smokers because of the mineral-rich, super-heated fluids they spew into the water column.
A diverse and unique fauna lives in association with the vents and a short clip of what was seen on one of these vents at about 3km depth can be viewed here. Yeti crabs, sea spiders, scaly-foot gastropods, mussels, worms and shrimp can be seen moving quickly at the periphery of these high temperature plumes.
Video used with the kind permission of Dr Jon Copley, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
Mountain life beneath the sea
Black smoker in Dynamic Earth