Deep-sea robots – "What happens in the vast, deep ocean, out of sight and beyond the reach of sunlight and satellites?" asks chief scientist Chris German. He is on a mission, with his team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to find out. They developed Sentry, a robotic underwater vehicle used for exploring the deep ocean.
Mid-Cayman Rise in the Caribbean – The development of new technology is crucial to our understanding of this vastly unexplored realm. Researchers use Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to examine hydrothermal vents up to 5km below the surface.
Mid-Cayman Rise, Caribbean Sea – At the scene of German's latest explorations, newly-discovered vents on the Mid-Cayman Rise, the dominant fauna is a new species of blind shrimp that feed on microbes fuelled by the chemical energy released from Earth's interior. The shrimp, in turn, are devoured by shrimp-eating anemones.
ROV Jason – Fueled by chemical energy released from the earth's interior, lush ecosystems thrive at hydrothermal vents. Here, the suction-tube sampler of the Institution's ROV collects a sample of tiny snails.
'Alvin' in Miami, Florida 1967 – In 1977, the development of new technology allowed the human-occupied vehicle, "Alvin" to explore a volcanic ridge 2500 meters below sea-level. "This discovery changed our understanding of how life can function here on Earth and opened entirely new fields of research," says German.
Alvin with two support swimmers – We still have more than 75% of the 55,000 kilometer-long volcanic ridge system to explore. These vents could shed light on how life first originated and are home to minerals that could be essential resources for us in the future.
Deep-sea angler fish – This deep-sea angler fish was collected by a submersible. Just three inches long but fierce-looking, it has a long spine tipped with bioluminescent tissue that it can dangle in front of its mouth.
Deep-sea octopus – Alvin pilot Bruce Strickrott encountered a docile deep-sea octopus 2,300 meters down in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of swimming away, it grabbed the submersible's robotic arm, normally used for picking up samples of seafloor rocks and organisms.