Did you know there are lakes in the ocean? Well sort of, in the ocean are what are called brine pools. These are where there are pools of heavy brine collected in a seafloor depression creating a “pond” within the sea. These brine pools are one of the many strange environments of the deep blue sea.
Perhaps the strangest of the alien worlds in the ocean are the hydrothermal vents that are colonized by extremophiles. These alien worlds live independent from the sun and some researchers believe that life even started on these vents. These are just some of the many strange things found by deep-sea divers.
What Brine Pools Are And Where To Find Them
Brine pools are also called brine lakes and are where the salinity of the water is three to eight times more than that of the surrounding ocean. Brine pools are common below polar sea ice, in the deep ocean, and they are found in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Nicknames: “Jacuzzi of despair,” “pit of despair,” and “hot tub of despair”
The brine pools under the sea ice and the brine pools in the deep sea form for different reasons. In the polar regions, it is formed from “brine rejection” whereas the seawater melts, the salt is expelled from the ice. In the deep sea, it is formed from salt tectonics or through geothermal processes.
Brine pools are generally toxic to marine animals. When fish and other animals wander into them, they can go into toxic shock or die.
Many of the pools contain almost no oxygen and are far too saline for animals to survive. Some of the brine pools are completely lifeless, others are colonized with extremophiles. Some of the brine pools have mussels thriving along the pool’s edge. Some also contain toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide.
Brine Pools In The Gulf Of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico contains brine pools as small as one meter (yard) across and as large as 20 km or 12 miles across.
- Size: From As Small As One Meter to As Large as 20 Kilometers
While today the Gulf of Mexico is a deep-sea basin, in the middle Jurassic period it was a shallow sea that was cut off and then dried out. This produced a thick layer of salts up to 8 km (5 miles) thick. When the Gulf was refilled with seawater, the salt layers were preserved from dissolution by a layer of sediment and were buried deeper into it.
As time has gone on, the weight of this sediment has pushed the salt up into domes in places. The salt then dissolves and forms brine pools.
- Mussels: The “Brine Pool” of The Gulf Of Mexico Has Dense Mats of Methane-Using Mussels Fringing The Shore of The Pool
- Fish Graveyard: They can Become Littered With Dead Fish And Other Marine Life and Become a “Fish Graveyard”
Animals that perish in the hypersaline brine pools often get turned into pickles. An example is one crab that was found that was thought to have been dead for 8 years but still had its soft tissue intact.
Animals go into shock and they cannot breathe in the water. They often die quickly and some of the brine pools are found to be eerily littered with dead fish, crabs, amphipods, and various organisms that ventured too far into the brine. As the brine preserves them, and other animals cannot eat them, the brine pools can become a “fish graveyard.”
Exploring Brine Pools With Deep Sea Submersibles
“99% of Earth’s habitable space is ocean. Most of it is unexplored. We’re changing that.”
Brine Pools are often deep and are not normal tourist destinations. But if one would really like to explore a lake in the ocean, then it is possible to rent a deep-sea submersible. One company offering this is OceanGate Experiences which also offers tours all the way down to the Titanitic.
Their expeditions can go down to depths approaching 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet. Booking a tour with them is easy (just terribly expensive), just let them know where one’s yacht will be moored or docked and the dates and they will do the rest.
- Cost: Costs Vary Massively By Location, Date, And Duration
- Quote: To Know How Much A Dive Will Cost, One Needs To Get A Specific Quote
Share with them one’s areas of interest and they will work to put together a custom expedition around one’s interests. Alternatively, one can join an already planned expedition (like expeditions to the Titanic).
They operate on deep-sea submersibles – the Titan and the Cyclops1.
- Titan Dive Depth: It Has Dove 3,800 Meters or 12,500 Feet
- Cyclops1 Dive Depth: 500 Meters or 1,640 Feet