Medusas and Ctenophore in the Galapagos | Nautilus Live

Galapagos Platform

Jun 26, 2015 to Jul 8, 2015 — NA064

The E/V Nautilus will spend several weeks exploring the Galapagos Rift region. The Galápagos Islands have been instrumental in the establishment of the biological theory of evolution, gaining insights to our knowledge of the chemistry of the Earth’s interior, and understanding the plate tectonic evolution of the eastern Pacific seafloor. In 1835 Charles Darwin visited the islands aboard the HMS Beagle and made fundamental biological and geological observations in the area. E/V Nautiluswill return to the area with new tools to explore the undersea part of the islands that were out of Darwin’s view. The main objectives will be to explore the biological diversity and geological structure of the foundation of the Galapagos Islands and the adjacent deep-sea spreading center to the north. 

The discovery of hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic organisms in the volcanic ridges in the rift in 1977 was a revolutionary discovery in science that changed our understanding of life processes. For the first time, scientists found evidence that life could be sustained from chemicals coming out of the Earth’s crust, rather than the light of the sun. Chemosynthetic bacteria, which derive energy from seawater-rock interactions at the vent sites form the base of the food chain for a host of organisms including clams, mussels, and tubeworms. The early studies at the Rose Garden vent site provided the foundation for our understanding the complexities of chemosynthetic communities including details of symbiosis, competition, and displacement. We will revisit this historic site and others in the area. 

The Galapagos archipelago is a group of volcanic islands lying about 900 km off the coast of Ecuador in the central eastern Pacific Ocean. They have formed as a result of a deep-seated mantle hotspot supplying excess magma to the seafloor in this region. The last recorded eruption occurred in 2009 from the La Cumbre volcano on the island of Fernandina. The Galapagos Rift is an east-west trending spreading center between the Cocos and Nazca plates. Here the Earth’s plates are moving apart at a rate of 5-6 cm per year, creating a 2-4 km wide rift valley in the seafloor. 

In addition to hydrothermal vents, an important habitat for biological communities are the steep volcanic slopes of the Galapagos Islands and nearby seamounts. Deep sea corals can be large (in excess of several meters in height) and offer shelter and habitat space for many other associated organisms.  

Meet the Team

Photo of Julia Arthur
Navigator Intern
Photo of Jacob Balcanoff
Science Intern, Science/Data
Photo of Katie Bryden
Video Intern
Photo of Steve Carey
Lead Scientist
Photo of Josh Chernov
ROV Operations Manager
Photo of Mark DeRoche
Deck Chief
Photo of Gregg Diffendale
Hercules Pilot
Photo of Chuck Fisher
Chief Scientist
Photo of Kira Homola
Science Intern, Science/Data
Photo of Renato Kane
Photo of Lindsay Knippenberg
Honors Research Project Lead
Photo of Robert Knott
Video Engineer
Photo of Jeffrey Laning
Argus Pilot
Photo of Megan Lubetkin
Science / Data Team
Photo of Michael Marin
Argus Pilot
Photo of Ana Victoria Moya Serrano
Science Intern
Photo of Julye Newlin
Photo of Brennan Phillips
Science/Data Team
Photo of Rachel Rayner
Science Communication Fellow
Photo of Chris Roman
Science/Data Team
Photo of Pelayo Salinas de Leon
Photo of Jessica Sandoval
Argus Pilot
Photo of Clara Smart
Photo of William Snyder
Photo of Suna Tüzün
Science/Data Team
Photo of Kerry Whalen
Video Engineer
Photo of Ariel Zych
Science Communication Fellow


Video: Colorful and Reflective Creatures of the Galapagos
Colorful and Reflective Creatures of the Galapagos
June 29, 2015
Video: Giant Black Smoker Hydrothermal Vent
Giant Black Smoker Hydrothermal Vent
July 1, 2015
Video: Deep Sea Predation and Digestion in the Galapagos
Deep Sea Predation and Digestion in the Galapagos
July 8, 2015
Video: Best of the E/V Nautilus 2015 Exploration Season
Best of the E/V Nautilus 2015 Exploration Season
September 17, 2015
Video: Deep-Sea Skates Incubate Eggs Near Hydrothermal Vents
Deep-Sea Skates Incubate Eggs Near Hydrothermal Vents
February 8, 2018