Deep sea black smoker vent
University of Washington; NOAA/OAR/OER

Deep Sea Vents

Explore some of the deepest, most unknown areas of the ocean floor, far beyond the reach of sunlight. Discover how animals have adapted ways to survive and thrive in this dark, otherworldly ecosystem, where the water pressure from the sea above is so great that it would crush most living things.

Exhibit Highlights

  • Riftia tubeworms at deep sea vents

    Creatures with Chemistry

    Scientists once thought that life on earth needed sunlight to survive. But at the deep sea vents, at depths far beyond the reach of sunlight, life forms like giant tubeworms have adapted to take advantage of a new source of energy—chemicals billowing out from below the earth's surface.

  • Under Pressure exhibit in Deep Sea Vents area

    Under Pressure

    Imagine sitting under a column of millions of bottles of water! Ocean water applies tons of pressure to everything at the bottom of the sea, but life forms have adapted to hold up under the pressure. Experiment with water pressure in the exhibit to uncover an adaptation that helps animals survive the deep sea.

  • Deep Sea Submersible Alvin

    Take a Dive

    Human deep-sea explorers have developed ways to deal with the pressure, too. Special submarines called HOVs (human-occupied vehicles) can take scientists to some of the deepest parts of the ocean. See a thick, wedge-shaped porthole from a real HOV, and take the controls to explore under the sea.

  • Deep Sea Vents rover from the Extreme Zone

    Roving Robots

    When it's too dangerous or expensive to send people to the ocean floor, researchers often send ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) to vent sites to take video, images and samples. Examine a real ROV up close, and use joysticks and buttons to control it like researchers do in the field.

  • Deep sea black smoker vent

    Fiery Fountains

    Find out about how deep-sea vents work, where they form, and what they can tell us about life on earth (and maybe even in space) that we can't learn anywhere else. Read stories from actual expeditions, and learn about real deep-sea ocean explorers.