Alvin during a deep sea mission.
As humans venture out to new corners of the world, so do invasive species. This story is old: mice hid out on Viking boats, plant seeds followed scientists to Antarctica, and, now, limpets have hitched a ride on the deep sea submersible Alvin. This last finding, published in Conservation Biology, surprised scientists, who didn’t think that limpets could survive drastic pressure changes as Alvin surfaced between dives.
Since 1964, Alvin, the little sub that could, has made thousands of scientific dives—from surveying the Titanic to exploring hydrothermal vents. The sub and its sampling gear are cleaned between each dive, but this new limpet discovery suggests a mistake happened somewhere down the line.
Researchers have found new examples of the strange singled-celled creatures called xenophyophores more than six miles beneath the surface of the Pacific in the Mariana Trench. At more than four inches in length, they are perhaps the largest single-celled organism on Earth. These protists make a living by sifting through sediments and can accumulate high levels of toxic metals like uranium, lead, and mercury.
Read more at LiveScience.
Image: Lisa Levin & David Checkley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography