The deep sea has a PR problem. Most people have little to no conception of what deep ocean ecosystems look like, what lives there, or how human well-being may depend on them. Deep-sea ecosystems provide many indirect services that benefit humanity, yet they are poorly quantified and infrequently discussed.
A new paper by graduate student Phillip Turner, uses an ecosystems principles approach to illustrate the value of deep-sea hydrothermal vents through expert surveys (disclaimer: Andrew Thaler is a co-author on this paper).
The paper highlights broad consensus among deep-sea experts regarding provisioning and regulating that hydrothermal vents provide to broader ocean systems, the resource value of ore deposits and genetic novelty, as well as cultural services, in the form of artistic inspiration and educational value, inherent in these systems. It also points towards significant knowledge gaps that still remain in our understanding of deep-sea hydrothermal vents.