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Marine life near volcanic vent

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 16:23 IST
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Peering deep into the sea, scientists are finding creatures more mysterious than many could have imagined.

At one site, nearly 3.2 kilometres deep in the Atlantic, shrimp were living around a vent that was releasing water heated to 765 degrees Fahrenheit. Water surrounding the site was a chilly 36 degrees.

An underwater peak in the Coral Sea was home to a type of shrimp thought to have gone extinct 50 million years ago. More than 4.8 kilometres beneath the Sargasso Sea, in the Atlantic, researchers collected a dozen new species eating each other or living on organic material.

Pyrosomella verticilliata - a type of colonial tunicate (sea-squirt)

"Animals seem to have found a way to make a living just about everywhere," said Jesse Ausubel of the Sloan Foundation, while discussing the findings of year six of the census of marine life.

A Leptocephalus, an eel larva, seen near the under-sea volcanic vent

This year's update, released on Sunday, is part of a study of life in the oceans that is scheduled for final publication in 2010. Ausubel said there are nearly 16,000 known species of marine fish and 70,000 kinds of marine mammals. The finding has boosted theories that planets other than Earth are suitable for life, scientists said.