Explore the Deep Sea
Expedition 5: Animals again
Expeditions to the Lau Basin in 2004 and 2005
The expedition visited several different vent sites between Tonga and Fiji, to:
- Identify all animal species present, and work out how abundant each species is
- Map how animal communities are distributed in relation to the chemical composition of the seawater
- Investigate which animals have "symbiotic" relationships with microbes, and work out the nature of the relationships
- Keep deep-sea animals alive on-board ship, using sophisticated, high-tech aquaria to simulate conditions on the seafloor.
Researchers took close-up color photos of the seafloor using the remotely-operated submersible, Jason II. They also photographed the sides of 3-D vent structures such as chimneys, formed from compounds precipitating out when the hot vent fluid met cold seawater.
These photos can be stitched together into photomosaics showing where animals are living in relation to vents.
The mosaic images will help researchers test ideas about relationships between animals and environmental conditions. They will also help researchers track changes in the animal communities over time, as conditions change.