Real-time monitoring of the seafloor reveals unexpected links
Nicolle Rager Fuller
Gas bubbles effervesce from a mound of muck on the seafloor in a deep submarine canyon off the west coast of Canada. Microbes beneath the sediment belch the bubbles after feasting on the ancient remains of algae, sea critters and their poop: a primordial stew that’s been simmering since long before humans walked the Earth.
This gassy oasis attracts an odd collection of critters. Worms writhe in the goo, clams bask in the bacteria, herds of sea cucumbers dine on diatoms and sea stars scurry across the pitch black landscape. But the strangest inhabitant of all is a robot named Wally, whose every move is controlled by a human sea spy viewing the entire scene from a lab 8,000 kilometers away in Bremen, Germany.