why is the ocean an extreme environment

The deep ocean is very cold, under high, and always dark because sunlight can not get down that far. Less life can survive in the deep ocean than in other parts of the
because of these conditions. For some, food comes from the bodies of dead fish, dead, and even dead that rain down from the waters above. But there are two in the deep sea where life is more abundant. These are cold seeps and hydrothermal vents. In these environments, food chains do not begin with plants or algae that. Cold seeps are areas where methane and hydrogen sulfide are released into the ocean. Cold seeps are home to clams, mussels, shrimp, bacteria, and tubeworms. For food, these animals depend on certain types of single-cell and microbes that live off the methane and hydrogen sulfide from the seep. There are cold seeps in many different places in the worlds ocean. They are often at the edges of continents. Hydrothermal vents are another type of extreme environment in the deep sea. While most of the water in the deep ocean is close to freezing, the water at hydrothermal vents is very hot.


It is heated by at tectonic. The hot water spews from holes in the crust called vents, looking like dark smoke because of the dissolved chemicals it picked up underground. Certain types of and Eubacteria microbes are able to turn the chemicals from the hot water into the energy they need to survive. Many other types of including fish, shrimp, giant tubeworms, mussels, crabs, and clams thrive in this environment as well. They, too, are adapted to the hot water and high pressure. Some of them, like mussels, clams, and the giant, 2-meter (6-foot) tubeworms, get the nutrition they need from microbes living within their bodies. Others, like shrimp and barnacles, eat the Archaea and Eubacteria. Deep beneath the ocean waves exist some of the most extreme environments on our planet- hydrothermal vents associated with submarine volcanoes. The connection between volcanism and life is perhaps nowhere more evident than at mid-ocean ridge spreading centers (such as the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Northeast Pacific).


From investigation of vents comes documentation of oases of vibrantly colored tubeworm communities and arrays of clams, crabs, and gastropods that surround the volcanically driven warm vents and adjacent terranes. Many of these macrofauna are supported by colonies of heat-loving microorganisms that thrive in the absence of sunlight. These organisms are sustained by volcanic gases released from below the seafloor. The highest temperature organisms on the planet, growing at temperatures of 121 C (250 F), have been recovered from hydrothermal vents. Such findings raise questions concerning the survival mechanisms of these organisms and the upper temperature limits of life on Earth. Just as spectacular, however, have been observations of dramatic and massive microbial biomass being emitted from the seafloor in association with underwater volcanic eruptions. Extensive microbial blooms last for several months following these eruptions.


Scientists believe that the microbes are fed by released gases associated with the injection and expulsion of basaltic material. Many of these microorganisms are archeae, believed to be the most ancient of organisms on the planet. From exploration of these systems comes the hypothesis that a potentially vast, but unexplored, microbial biosphere exists in the crust that may rival that on the continents. Partly because the overlying ocean provides a pressure medium, mid-ocean ridges, and other active seafloor volcanoes, may represent the best natural environment currently known in which humans can study the linkages between volcanically driven hydrothermal systems and the life they support. We have only begun to explore and instrument these environments in detail; there is much left to be discovered. Understanding as much as possible about linked processes here on Earth may provide important guides to examining volcanic ecology elsewhere in the solar system.

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