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Cold Seeps

Cold Seep Biodiversity

Cold seeps can be incredibly active habitats with high biodiversity. What makes this ecosystem so unique, is that the hydrocarbons seeping out of the seeps are driving the food web here, rather than energy from this sun. This is possible due to a process called chemosynthesis, where hydrocarbons are converted into sugars (food). Chemosynthetic bacteria are the powerhouses that make this happen. Some of these chemosynthetic bacteria are free-living and form mats that are visible on the seafloor, while others live within animals, such as tubeworms or mussels, in a symbiotic relationship. This symbiosis means that mussels and tubeworms often dominate cold seep habitats and create additional food and habitat for other organisms, such as squat lobsters, crabs, shrimps, snails, sea cucumbers, and polychaete worms.

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