To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Not now
OK
Advert
Advert
Advert

Scientists make unbelievable discovery after spotting trail of crabs at the bottom of the ocean

Niamh Shackleton

Published 
| Last updated 

Scientists make unbelievable discovery after spotting trail of crabs at the bottom of the ocean

Featured Image Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute

Scientists have found something in the Galápagos Islands that they'd long been searching for - with the help of some crabs.

A team of researchers spotted an chemical anomaly way back in 2008, which sparked them to start searching the general Galápagos Spreading Center (GSC) region.

The research was organized by the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Advert

Loading…

Expedition co-leader Jill McDermott, a chemical oceanographer at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, explained to Live Science: "One of the anomalies that we look for is a lens of low oxygen water.

"Oxygen is completely removed through circulation in the seafloor. So the water that's expressed at the seafloor is devoid of oxygen."

They then followed the oxygen-poor, chemically enriched water, using a remotely operated vehicle to analyze the sea floor.

Advert

It was then that the trail of a type of crab called (bizarrely) squat lobsters were spotted who unintentionally led researchers to what they'd been looking for - a hydrothermal vent.

There are over 500 hydrothermal vents in the ocean. Credits: Ralph White/Getty
There are over 500 hydrothermal vents in the ocean. Credits: Ralph White/Getty

They spotted the dense population of galatheid crabs (genus Munidoposis) - aka squat lobsters - which led them to the new field located between the Cocos and Nazca tectonic plates roughly 250 miles north of the Galápagos Islands.

Upon following the ghostly white crabs, scientists discovered a sprawling 98,800 square feet field; which they've since dubbed 'Sendero del Cangrejo', or 'Trail of the Crabs'.

Advert

It was in a similar area that the first ever hydrothermal vent was unveiled in the late 1970s.

There are thought to be over 500 hydrothermal vents dotted across the globe, but only half of these have actually been seen.

Hydrothermal vents can only occur in places with volcanic activity.

Cracks in the sea floor allow water to flow through the ocean crust, which is heated by the Earth's magma chambers.

Advert

Waters can hit temperatures of 400°C before it travels back into the ocean by hydrothermal vents.

Scientists found a huge population of squat crabs in the area. Credits: Schmidt Ocean Institute
Scientists found a huge population of squat crabs in the area. Credits: Schmidt Ocean Institute

The hostile environment that comes with living near a hydrothermal vent means there's very little life nearby; only some crabs and tube worms are able to survive.

As well as the crabs, Roxanne Beinart, a biological oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island who co-led the expedition said they saw tube worms, clams and mussels in the vent field.

Advert

Bienart recalled: "There were giant tube worms, which can be a couple meters long.

"There were very large clams, sometimes called dinner plate clams, as well as mussels."

Mollusks and octopuses have also been known to be able to live near hydrothermal vents.

Topics: News, World News, Science, Animals

Niamh Shackleton
More like this
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

News

Chilling last words shouted at missing teen after he jumped off cruise ship into shark-infested waters

9 hours ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

MIT student creates device that is able to search the entire internet using just his mind

9 hours ago