The unassuming velcro star creeps slowly along the seafloor, until a passing fish brushes against its spiny arms. Like jaws snapping shut, tiny barbed pincers called pedicellariae snag the prey until the star's flexible arms can drag it under to its mouth.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and an important commercial resource that fuels many elements of our lives on land. Scientists are beginning to understand the complex and varied ways methane fuels life beneath the sea as well. Nautilus will study methane seep habitats along the length of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, from southern British Columbia to northern California. Several sites along the Washington coast are well-studied ecosystems fueled by gas hydrate - a crystalline, consolidated chemical ice made of methane.