*

The above Aqua Craft, TZT B-1000 , was the mode of transport utilized by our team to make underwater expeditions. A total of 7 humans can be transported at a time. The craft can reach a maximum speed of 90 M.P.H. underneath the water.

In spite of the ocean water changes, both in temperature and salinity, the oceans' ecosystem involving interactions of mineral cycling, energy flow, and population control, managed to survive . The intense UV radiation caused the disappearance of vulnerable aquatic fauna and flora. However, the cycle of life continued by the gradual replacement of extinct species with other less vulnerable ones. The large aquatic mammals, and shallow water fishes were replaced by a multitude of much smaller bottom dwelling fishes, crustaceans, shell fish and bioluminescent creatures. By living at deeper sea levels, these creatures were not negatively affected by the intense radiation which can only penetrate a few hundred meters into the water. Water plants specimens also underwent considerable changes. However, the basic plant function of helping in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere remained viable and was was not affected. Microscopic algae, together with a great variety of shallow water flora, became extinct. In their place, Giant Kelp forests flourished, as well as other smaller varieties of deep-sea Brown and Red algae. There seemed to be an increase of volcanic activity both on land and in the ocean. Hydrothermal vents have been forming on the ocean floor at a faster rate, therefore affecting the ecology of the oceans.

Hydrothermal vents are underwater oasis, providing habitat for many creatures that are not found anywhere else in the ocean. Large colonies of bizarre creatures which can survive toxic chemicals, high pressure and high temperatures, as well as total darkness, proliferate at the vents sites. These creatures depend on a completely different metabolism, and need neither oxygen nor solar energy.

Vents form where the planet's crustal plates slowly spread apart and magma wells up from below. As cracks form at these spreading centers, sea water seeps a mile or two down into the hot rock. Enriched with minerals leached from the rock, the water heats up and rises to the ocean floor to emerge from a vent. The hot sulfur-rich waters produced by the vents (reaching temperatures up to 350 C°) are oxidized by bacteria that blanket the ocean floor, releasing energy used to synthesize organic compounds. Through this chemosynthetic process, hydrogen sulfide is converted into a food source, providing ample nutrients for the plants and animals living on the ocean floor.

Giant red-tube worms (up to 3.7 m /12 ft long ) can inhabit the vents. These giant worms are filled with bacteria and live in a symbiotic association with the bacteria. They can increase in length at a rate of more than 33 inches per year and colonize vents extremely rapidly. They reproduce rather quickly by spawning (by releasing sperms and eggs which combine in the water to create more worms). This abundance of worms allows for a copious reservoir of food for all other living species.

Other creatures are also found inhabiting the vents sites. Giant Clams; Pencil-size Jericho Worms with accordion-like tubes; Orange Worms covered with tiny bristles; small Benthic Worms that wiggle through the mud; and finger-length dark red Palm Worms that stand upright, topped with wig-like fronds. A special class of small worms, called Alvinellids, live on the walls of mineral deposits that form around vents.

Various species of Mussels, Shrimp, Clams and Crabs are also abundant at many vents. Found are also small crustaceans including miniature lobsters called Galatheids, and Amphipods resembling sand fleas. There are also snail like Limpets, Sea Anemones, snake-like fish with bulging eyes and Octopuses. The octopuses are at the higher end of the food chain and the bacteria are at the bottom. All these creatures have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria which are the first ones to colonize the vents. They come in a snow-like flurry and then settle to form white mats or tendrils attached to the ocean floor that are several inches thick. These bacteria emerge from below the ocean floor when the conditions are right.

GEOLOGY

ECOLOGY

WEATHER

MICRO LIFE

MARINE LIFE LAND PLANTS LAND ANIMALS

To Top of Page