The volcano called NW Rota-1 is one unique volcano near the island of Guam that erupts so frequently that it has built a new cone which is 131ft high and 984ft wide in a period of just 3 years. In the words of Bill Chadwick, a volcanogist at the Oregon State University, "That's as tall as a 12ft-story building and as wide as a full city block."
Surprisingly, this active underwater volcano which spews torrents of lava and noxious gas has become a hotspot for sea critters. Scientists revealed that despite the tumultuous conditions at that undersea volcano, a large number of creatures including shrimps, crab, limpets, and barnacles have thrived there. They believe studying them would provide answers to them as to how sea life could adapt to the world's increasingly acidic oceans.
According to Chadwick, the sea life is specially adapted to their environment and is successfully thriving in harsh chemical conditions that are extremely toxic to normal marine life. He says, "Life here is actually nourished by the erupting volcano." Sea water is slightly alkaline but with the increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere, there has been an increase of CO2 dissolving in the oceans forming carbonic acid leading to ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification poses a serious threat to marine life which includes certain types of fish, eggs and larvae. It also interferes in the formation of shells. Verena Tunnicliffe, who is a biologist at the University of Victoria said, "Volcanic gases make the eruption clouds extremely acidic – worse than stomach acid." However, Chadwick believes that these submarine volcanoes are the right places to study how animals adapted to acidic condition in the oceans.
It has also been found how the two species of shrimp had adapted to volcano living. The 'Lojhi' shrimp has adapted to foraging on bacterial filaments with its claws but the second shrimp is a new species. They also graze as juveniles but as they reach their adult stage, their front claws enlarge and they become predators.
This new species attack the 'Lojhi' shrimp and preys on dead marine life that had wandered too close to the volcanic plumes. Tunnicliffe said, "We saw dying fish, squid, and so on, raining down on to the seamount, where they were jumped on by the volcano shrimp – lovely adaptation to exploiting the noxious effects of the volcano."
Sea critters no matter fall in the lowest step of the marine food chain but as they say 'never underestimate on the basis of size'; these little creatures have managed to survive and thrive in the most acidic and toxic oceanic conditions while their big marine brothers could not and succumbed to death.