Deep-Sea Creature Uses Hydro-Thermal Vents As A Nursery

A deep-sea volcanic trench might seem like a dreadful home, but for the Pacific white skate its an absolutely dreamy nursery.

Researchers studying the rocky, deep-sea hydrothermal vent field called Iguanas-Piguinos  48 kilometers (30 miles) offshore of the Galapagos and 1,675 meters (5,500 feet) beneath the surface  found a species of skate that scientists believe uses the vents to incubate its eggs.

Scientists aren't totally sure why the skates lay their eggs in such a seemingly precarious spot, but believe it might speed up incubation time, increase survival rates, and perpetuate their parents' DNA. The study is published in Scientific Reports.

Embryos can take up to four years to develop, but a little hydrothermal help could shorten that period by several months.  

"Water temperature elevating even half a degree Celsius probably speeds up development time," said co-author Dave Ebert, program director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Labs in California, in an interview with IFLScience. 

The video was captured using a remotely operated vehicle. A fiber-optic cable tethered from the ROV to a research vessel provides a live feed for researchers to view and ultimately capture seafloor samples. It was at this point the rare stingray-like creature was seen laying its eggs on hot plumes coming out of the hydrothermal vents. 

This is one of the few vertebrates we know of certainly the only deep-sea vertebrates that use these hydrothermal vents as nursery ar....

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