hydrothermal vents

Imagine you are a marine biologist, traveling far beneath the ocean surface in a submersible. It's a vast, dark desert until you come across a tall group of chimney-like structures on the ocean floor, spewing stuff that looks like black smoke! There are bizarre creatures surrounding them, like bright-red tube worms and giant clams. You just found an underwater hot spring with several black smokers.

Name: black smokers
Average depth: 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) down
Habitat: deep-sea hydrothermal vents, mid-ocean ridges
First discovered: in 1977 near the Galapagos Islands
Cool fact: More than 300 species of animals live around black smokers.

Image credits: courtesy of University of Washington, J.R. Delaney.