Photo album:

Rockin' Welcome Mats: Ciliate and Bacteria Mats of Hydrothermal Vents

Bacterial mats and ciliate carpets in the North Guaymas Basin of the Gulf of California offered stunning imagery during seven dives to survey geologic features and sample fluids, rocks, and organisms thriving among hydrothermal vent systems. The elemental composition of the rocks and hydrothermal vent fluids enable these bacterial mats to flourish, making these chemosynthetic organisms the basis of the food chain at these deep sea oases. Click through to learn more about the unusual life we encountered around these actively venting black smokers.

Contributed by Lead Science Communication Fellow Elizabeth Fahy and Science Communciation Fellows Jennifer Runyan and Alfonso Garcia Arriola.