‘Deep Sea Tubeworms and Palm Worms’, colored pencil -Véronique Robigou, Ocean et Terra Studio © 2011
One of the privileged marine geologists to have explored the deep ocean, Véronique is still inspired by her early dives in the Alvin submersible at 2500 meters depth on the Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal vents.
Underwater technology continuously expands our understanding of the ocean. But… she keeps her mystery…
Massive hydrothermal vents spewing hot and metal-laden fluids rise out of her darkest and deepest recesses and inspire reverence and awe. As the submersible illuminates a path toward a forest of monstrous shadows my heart skips a beat, soon leading to enchantment amidst the beauty and peace of her Prussian blue entrails. Approaching the looming menace reveals vibrant communities that cloak these oases of life. As water offers comfort to the caravan in the desert, the sulfide towers provide shelter and nutrients to extraordinary species that thrive on geothermal energy rather than sunlight. Endemic Ridgeia piscesae worms adorn blood-red gills while palm worms (Paralvinella palmiformis) sway in unison in the vent fluids. Hyperactive sulfide worms (Paralvinella sulfincola) spring out of their mucus to harvest transient nutrients while the dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis bathynectes) lingers in this ephemeral and unpredictable, volcanic kingdom.