North Yellow Banks Beach at Olympic National Park.
North Yellow Banks Beach at Olympic National Park. NPS Photo

Why is the ocean salty?

If you’ve ever been in the ocean, you’ve tasted that salt. But where does it come from? And why aren’t lakes and rivers salty too? A sea shanty is probably the best way to explain, right? Plus: we learn about the weird and wonderful world of deep ocean hot springs.

A look at hydrothermal vents
A black smoker on the ocean floor.
A black smoker on the ocean floor. Photo courtesy of NOAA
Riftia tubeworms
Riftia tubeworms colonize diffuse vent habitats between broken pieces of lava. Small mussels, less than two inches, were growing in cracks adjacent to vent openings (lower right). NOAA Ocean Explorer/Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011.
Deep sea shrimp
At least two species of shrimp are found at the Von Damm hydrothermal vent site. One relies on chemosynthesis for food, and the other may be a predator. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, MCR Expedition 2011. NOAA Ocean Explorer/Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, MCR Expedition 2011.
Tubeworm
Chemosynthetic bacteria living inside the tubeworms derive energy from chemicals emitted in the hot water of hydrothermal vents. This was the first live tubeworm seen at a hydrothermal vent site in Atlantic waters. The observation occurred during an expedition aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducted in August 2011. (Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, MCR Expedition 2011, NOAA-OER) Photo courtesy of NOAA

Footage of the crew of E/V Nautilus discovering a hydrothermal vent near the Galapagos Islands: