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Deepest Ever Marine Drill Discovers Life

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Scientists are analysing microbial life that has been discovered following the deepest-ever marine drilling expedition.

The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) found the microbes living 2,400m beneath the seabed off Japan.

The tiny, single-celled organisms survive in this harsh environment on a low-calorie diet of hydrocarbon compounds and have a very slow metabolism.

The findings are being presented at the America Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert, from the California Institute of Technology, who is part of the team that carried out the research, said: “We keep looking for life, and we keep finding it, and it keeps surprising us as to what it appears to be capable of.”

The IODP Expedition 337 took place in 2012 off the coast of Japan’s Shimokita Peninsula in the northwestern Pacific.

From the Chikyu ship, a monster drill was set down more than 1,000m (3,000ft) beneath the waves, where it penetrated a record-breaking 2,446m (8,024ft) of rock under the seafloor.

Samples were taken from the ancient coal bed system that lies at this depth, and were returned to the ship for analysis.

The team found that microbes, despite having no light, no oxygen, barely any water and very limited nutrients, thrived in the cores.

To find out more about how this life from the “deep biosphere” survives, the researchers set up a series of experiments in which they fed the little, spherical organisms different compounds.

Dr Trembath-Reichert said: “We chose these coal beds because we knew there was carbon, and we knew that this carbon was about as tasty to eat, when it comes to coal, as you could get for microbes.

“The thought was that while there are some microbes that can eat compounds in coal directly, there may be smaller organic compounds – methane and other types of hydrocarbons – sourced from the coal that the microbes could eat as well.”

The experiments revealed that the microbes were indeed dining on these methyl compounds.

The tests also showed that the organisms lived life in the slow lane, with an extremely sluggish metabolism.

They seem to use as little energy as possible to get by.

The researchers are now trying to work out if there are lots of different kinds of microbes living in the coal beds or whether there is one type that dominates.

They also want to find out how the microbes got there in the first place.

“Were these microbes just in a swamp, and loving life in a swamp, because there is all sorts of carbon available, oxygen, organic matter… and then that gets buried?” pondered Dr Trembath-Reichert.

“It could be that they didn’t get a chance to escape – they couldn’t exactly walk out. So is it that they were there to begin with and then they could maintain life?

“Or were they like microbes that were able to travel down to those depths from the surface?”

The discovery of vast ecosystems of microbes deeper and deeper underground is causing scientists to reassess the role that these organisms play in the carbon cycle.

Because these organisms take in hydrocarbons and expel methane, a greenhouse gas, as a waste product, they may be having a greater impact on the system that governs the Earth’s climate than was previously thought.

The findings also have implications for the hunt for life on other planets.

If life can survive in the most extreme conditions on Earth, perhaps it has found a way to cope with harsh environments elsewhere in the Universe.

 

Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news

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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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