Only just discovered in 2011, this incredibly large amphipod have only been known to man for a few years. I was found 2 kilometers below the surface, near the island of Jan Mayen, between Svalbard and Island in the Greenland Sea. Exitomelita sigynae here lives in one of the harshest environments on the planet - in a black smoker. A black smoker is a ‘chimney’ on the seafloor, known as a hydrothermal vent, from which geothermally hot water filled with sulfur and minerals erupts with great force, looking like a cloud of black smoke.
Here it was located crawling in cracks and crevices on the chimneys from the base of the vents up to the edge of the outlets that were venting ﬂuids with temperatures between 310 and 320°C.
Exitomelita sigynae has a laterally compressed body, like most amphipods. The adult size ranges from 30 to 50 mm, and are able to consume chemosynthetic bacteria, and are able to eat the sulfur from the black smoke. It shell consist of chitin, The species is named for Sigyn, the wife of the Norse god Loki, for whom the vent ﬁeld (i.e., the type location) is named. Sigyn remained close to Loki during his punishment from the other gods, just as Exitomelita sigynae is closely associated with the vent ﬁeld.
Fotos: Rasmus Sigvaldi