In the ‘otherworldly’ Von Damm Spire ecosystem (in Caribbean) located 7,500 ft below water, there is a mysterious species of shrimps that survive in the seemingly extreme conditions governed by hot submarine springs. These deeply submerged vents can discharge heated water vapor that go up to whopping temperatures of 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius); and yet the colony of the marine organisms thrive by virtue of a symbiotic setup. NASA exobiologists have taken a keen interest in this wondrous survival scope; and according to them, this might very well hold the key to uncovering the secrets of the potential alien lifeforms in the oceans of Europa (a moon of Jupiter) that are covered by thick icy crusts on the surface levels.
As we mentioned before, the ambit of sustenance depends on a symbiotic system, and this relationship is forged between the shrimps and a special kind of bacteria. These bacteria get their nutriment from the hydrogen sulfide that is produced from the hydro-thermal spring vents, while the shrimps get their nourishment from the bacteria. As Max Coleman, a senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, mentions –
[The] hydrogen sulfide [produced by the vents] is toxic to organisms in high concentrations, but the bacteria feeding the shrimp need a certain amount of this chemical to survive. Nature has worked out a solution: The shrimp position themselves on the very border between normal, oxygenated ocean water and sulfide-rich water so that they and the bacteria can coexist in harmony.
Quite incredibly, while the vents account for blisteringly hot temperatures, the water volume that is just inches away from the outlets, has a comfortable warmth to it – which is optimized to the survival of the organisms. Furthermore, the shrimps being blind, have dedicated heat receptors that allow them to gauge the degree of warmth, and position themselves accordingly. In essence, if we consider an analogous scenario on Europa, the survival of any extraterrestrial entity would most probably depend on a hydro-thermal heat source.