‘Glowing’ worms and ‘mirror pools’: previously unknown species and unique hydrothermal vents are found off the Mexican coast (PHOTOS)

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During a recent expedition, which took place off the coast of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, a team of researchers from Mexico and the United States has discovered at least six animal species probably previously unknown, as well as new hydrothermal vents, also called hydrothermal vents, which are fed by geological activity under the seabed.

According detailed This Wednesday the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the expedition focused on the study of tectonic processes and mapping, heat flow and geophysics of hydrothermal vents, and biology, including microbes. The hydrothermal vents are located in the Pescadero basin, located in the Gulf of California 150 kilometers from the Mexican city of La Paz, and are unique, both for their chemistry and their appearance, since they are the only currently observed to emit clear fluids, the specialists stressed.

To explore and sample hydrothermal vents that emit fluids at temperatures up to 287 ° C along with the unique communities of animals that inhabit this extreme environment, we used a ROV SuBastian underwater robot. In addition, the device captured stunning images of the seafloor, including ‘mirror pools’, calcite spirals and iridescent blue scale worms.

The researchers reported that they found possible new species of polychaetes; arrow worms, also known as ketognaths; crustaceans; mollusks; and roundworms, along with ten species known but not previously found in the Pescadero basin. “It seems that there are differences in the animals of the fumaroles that dominate these different hydrothermal traits, “said Dr. Victoria Orphan of the California Institute of Technology.” Sites to the south had the highest density of blue scale worms, while others appeared to be more densely colonized by chemosynthetic anemones or tube worms, “he detailed.

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“Our team of scientists and engineers has been studying faults, volcanism and hydrothermal vents in the basins of the southern Gulf of California for a full decade,” explained Chief Scientist David Caress of the Aquarium of the Bay Research Institute. from Monterrey. He added that this expedition It has been based on its previous explorations of the Alarcón and Pescadero basins, in the framework of which they found the Auka vent field in 2015 and the largest of the new vent mounds, called ‘Maija awi’, in 2018, among others.

“Between the Gulf of California expeditions of the years 2018 and 2021, we have covered an unprecedented area of ​​almost 20,000 square kilometers, which is approximately one eighth of the total area of ​​the Gulf of California, “revealed Dr. Ronald Spelz-Madero, from the Autonomous University of Baja California.” Studying the relatively rapid rate at which the Gulf of California is forming expands our knowledge on how continental margins are formed, the places where most people live today, “he concluded.

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