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article imageScientists explore deadly underwater lake in Gulf of Mexico

By Karen Graham     Nov 2, 2016 in Science
Scientists have posted photographs and a video on the Internet of a mysterious and deadly lake 3,300 feet under the Gulf of Mexico. The lake, dubbed the "Jacuzzi of Despair" is a pool of certain death to any sea creatures that end up in its briny depths.
The bizarre lake was first observed in 2014, using a remotely-operated underwater robot called Hercules. A year later, scientists with Nautilus Live went for a closer look using a three-person research sub called Alvin.
The circular pool is about 100 feet in circumference and is 12 feet deep. It contains water that is four to five times saltier than the surrounding seawater. The briny water is so dense that it forms a toxic cauldron of chemicals that include methane gas and hydrogen sulfide that don't mix with the surrounding water.
The first high resolution map of the  jacuzzi of despair  that kills almost anything that swims into...
The first high resolution map of the 'jacuzzi of despair' that kills almost anything that swims into it. The circular pool - about 100 feet in circumference and about 12 feet deep - lies nearly 3,300 feet below the surface of the Gulf. This image was created from 2,000 stills taken by a robosub.
The Oceanography Society
The scientist's findings were published in the journal Oceanography, and showed that the underwater pool is littered with a living mat of bacteria and salt deposits that could be useful in our studies of life on other planets.
"It was one of the most amazing things in the deep sea," Erik Cordes, associate professor of biology at Temple University and one of the scientists who discovered the underwater lake said, according to Nature World News. "You go down into the bottom of the ocean and you are looking at a lake or a river flowing. It feels like you are not on this world."
A brine pool in the  jacuzzi of despair   with walls made up of barite.
A brine pool in the 'jacuzzi of despair', with walls made up of barite.
The Oceanography Society
"This crater-like, circular, brine-filled pool rose three meters above the surrounding seafloor, and brine was spilling out on one side in a spectacular 'waterfall,'" said Cordes. Another interesting finding was the temperature of the water inside the pool. Cordes says the water inside the pool was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the surrounding seawater, which was 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
The warmer temperature of the pool acts like a lure to sea creatures. There were lots of well-preserved carcasses of deep-sea crabs and other crustaceans lining the edges of the pool of death. The high toxicity of the lake only allows for the survival of adaptive bacteria and a couple of marine creatures, reports the Daily Mail.
Some marine creatures  like these giant mussels have adapted to the toxic mix in the Jacuzzi of Desp...
Some marine creatures, like these giant mussels have adapted to the toxic mix in the Jacuzzi of Despair.
The Oceanography Society
One of the animals is a giant marine mussel that has developed a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria living in the pool. The bacteria feed off the toxic chemicals and are in turn used as food by the mussels. Other creatures that have adapted to the pool include a few tube worms and shrimp.
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