Sea anemones on a hydrothermal vent

Sea anemones on a hydrothermal vent

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Caption: Sea anemones around a hydrothermal vent on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The vents are active areas in which magma (molten rock) near the surface heats water in the rocks to temperatures in excess of its boiling point. It is prevented from boiling by the great pressure at such depths: this is around three kilometres deep. Minerals dissolved in, then precipitated from, the superheated water provide the basis for an ecosystem independent of sunlight. Bacteria use the minerals in their metabolism, and the bacteria form the base of a food chain, which also comprises anemones, tube worms, crustaceans and fish.

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