East Pacific Rise Cruise 2001: Holidays at Sea

FWF research project No. P16774-B03


The Search for Babies

Collection of adult Riftia pachyptila trophosome

12/9/2001 - 1/1/2002

Chief Scientist: C.R. Fisher (The Pennsylvannia State University, PA, USA)

Austrian participants

Monika Bright

Andrea Nussbaumer

Christian Rinke


Research Vessel Atlantis

Deep Submergence Vehicle Alvin


In December 2001, we (M. Bright, A. Nussbaumer, and C. Rinke) were able to leave our landlocked country for a cruise exploring the fascinating community at the hydrothermal vents on the bottom of the Pacific ocean, starting from Manzanillo (Mexico).

More information about the Submergence Vehicle Alvin, the Research Vessel Atlantis and all cruises is provided on the WHOI webpages.

The Search for Babies

Collections of small tubeworms on tubes of adult tubeworms and basaltic rock

Searching for tubeworms in the size range between 200 and 400 μm, we are faced with several obstacles: tubeworm babies are tiny; they tend to settle and hide in holes and crevices; the tubes of the babies are of the same color as the tube of the adult tubeworms.

Nevertheless, with a lot of patience and luck, we were able to collect a few specimens.


                                               Juvenile 300 μm                                                                                    Juvenile tube on rock


                                       Juvenile on rock 3 mm                                                                               Juvenile on tube 3 mm

Deployment of babytraps

In order to collect settled larvae and small juveniles of tubeworms, we developed settlement devices - ‚babytraps'. They are composed of 10 hard PVC plates (6 cm², 1 cm thick) screwed together. The plates had numerous small holes (1 mm diameter) in between the plates. By unscrewing the plates, the holes lie open and their content can be easily collected.


Short term deployments

Surface of babytrap with microbes and sulfur precepitates after 9 days at the bottom.


Long-term deployments

Two of these blocks were deployed together at 5 different locations at TICA.


Collections of Adult Trophosome

Adult tubeworms were collected. They were fixed for transmission electron microscopy and element analysis.


                                        Collection of tubeworms