Tortoise and Hare Ridges

Attributed to Aesop is the old parable of the tortoise and the hare. We all know the story and the moral. Slow and steady wins the race. Now lets add to the story a snail and mess with the plot a bit. In the new story both the tortoise and the hare are the winner, and no one thinks the snail will amount to anything-let alone win a race. But eventually the snail does finish. And to truly take the parable over the top all three finish at the same time. Everyone lives happily ever after basking in the glow of their mutual win.

I have probably stretched this analogy as far as it can go.

Scientists know hydrothermal vents from fast spreading ridges like the East Pacific Rise (20 to 40 millimeters per year) and slow spreading ridges like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (less than 20 millimeters per year). But what about from ultraslow spreading Ridges? Nope, they would be too cold to host large hot vents. But recently some renegade scientists hypothesized that ultraslow ridges could produce a few but large vent fields. A recent expedition by the U.S. and China in the Indian Ocean discovered a vent site that was larger than football field.

So in the end maybe the moral should be a famous quote from Teddy Roosevelt. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far”

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

One Reply to “Tortoise and Hare Ridges”

  1. I can’t wait to see the critters! This is an interesting area biogeographically as the Central Indian Ridge displays fauna with similarities to both the Western Pacific back-arc basin vents and the the vents along the mid-atlantic ridge.

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