A Harsh Homeland
Photograph by William Reeve, SLP
Shrimp scale the peak of a sulfide chimney, grazing on bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive here. (An out-of-focus chimney provides the background shimmer.) In this world devoid of sunlight, life depends on chemosynthesis, the conversion of chemical energy into biomass. Bacteria grow by using the chemical energy of reduced sulfur compounds, plentiful in the warm vent water. Once bacteria have colonized a chimney, a host of other creatures follows.