A candy-coloured underwater oasis has been discovered at the bottom of the Gulf of California

In the Gulf of California, more or less two thousand meters under the surface, scientists have just discovered amazing pink towers which look like something straight out of a candy shop.

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The towers are part of a field of hydrothermal vents and surrounded by incredibly hot fluids. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Ocean Institute

The unique discovery was made by a team of scientists operating in the Mexican Gulf, as they were conducting a study on hydrothermal vents and the environment that surrounds them.

What the scientists certainly did not expect to find, though, were large mineral towers measuring up to 23 meters in height and 10 meters wide, all with a distinct hot pink colour. “The vibrant colours found on the ‘living rocks’ was striking, and reflects a diversity in biological composition as well as mineral distribution,” said Dr Mandy Joye of the University of Georgia, the team’s leader.

Since these mineral towers are hydrothermal and constantly producing fumes, they create the illusion of “mirror pools”, as if you’re sort of looking at a mirror when observing the incredibly hot fluids beneath them. The visual effect is incredibly striking, and the candy colour does certainly help a lot, giving these particular towers an eerie otherworldly feeling.

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Despite their extreme conditions, these towers are actually the home of a variety of organisms. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Ocean Institute

What’s even more striking is that these hydrothermal vents are actually teeming with biodiversity and potentially new and yet undiscovered fauna. “This is an amazing natural laboratory to document incredible organisms,” said Dr Joye. “And [to] better understand how they survive in extremely challenging environments.”

The expedition was funded by the Schmidt Ocean Institute with the permission of the authorization of the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, and while it’s primary objective was a scientific one, its hope to is to raise awareness to the general condition of the world’s oceans. “It’s a different world down there, each dive feels like floating into a science fiction film,” said the Institute’s co-founder Wendy Schmidt. “Witnessing these remarkable oceanscapes, we are reminded that although they are out of our everyday sight they are hardly immune from human impact.”

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These hydrothermal vents fields expand horizontally, so much that they almost look like pagodas. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Ocean Institute

If you’d like to know more, you can check out the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s official website here.