Subtidal Gastropods Consume Sulfur-Oxidizing Bacteria: Evidence from Coastal Hydrothermal Vents

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Science  17 Feb 1984:
Vol. 223, Issue 4637, pp. 696-698
DOI: 10.1126/science.223.4637.696


The black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii), a commercially important shallow-water gastropod common off White Point, Southern California, is found frequently at subtidal hydrothermal vents within mats of filamentous sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Foraging vent abalones actively consume the bacteria and confine their nightly feeding forays to bacterial mats surrounding the vents. The growth of abalones consuming the sulfur bacteria exceeds that of control individuals consuming microalgae and is comparable to reported growth rates of abalones consuming macroalgae. Thus, off White Point, the black abalone may derive a portion of its nutrition from the subsidy of geothermal energy.