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ChEss (Chemosynthetic Ecosystem Science) was a field project of the Census of Marine Life programme (CoML). The main aim of ChEss was to determine the biogeography of deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems at a global scale and to understand the processes driving these ecosystems. ChEss addressed the main questions of CoML on diversity, abundance and distribution of marine species, focusing on deep-water reducing environments such as hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, whale falls, sunken wood and areas of low oxygen that intersect with continental margins and seamounts.

Selected ChEss outputs: a decade of discovery on deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems

Final news from ChEss: A fourth new vent site discovered during the ChEsSo programme in the Antarctic! In Jan/Feb 2011, Professor Paul Tyler led the ChEsSo team as they discovered beautiful slender chimneys on the side of Adventure crater.

Census of Marine Life Grand Finale Event London, UK. 4-6 October 2010. The CoML News Conference at the Royal Institution in London, produced in collaboration with National Geographic, featured ten years of collaborative, global research on the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life—past, present, and future. This was followed by a 2 day science symposium at the Royal Society, London.

Giant Census species costumes! As part of the CoML Grand Finale Event in London, 3 costumes were designed and constructed by JellyHead 3D to represent 3 iconic species from the CoML programme. See a selection of photos here.

September 22nd 2010: ChEss launches PLoS ONE Collection! A living collection of the latest research on hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, and whale falls is now available online at PLoS ONE. The articles present some of the recent advances in biogeography and taxonomy within deep-sea chemosynthetic environments, where abundant life thrives fuelled by chemical reactions rather than sunlight. New articles will be added to these initial collection over the next few months, building towards a comprehensive overview of the ChEss programme.

October 2010: The Vent and Seep Biota. This book highlights discoveries, developments, and advances made during the past 10 years, including remarkable cases of host-symbiont coevolution, worms living on frozen methane, and a fossil record providing insights into the dynamic history of these ecosystems since the Paleozoic.

October 2010: Comprising the synthesis and analysis of the results of the Census, Life in the World's Oceans: Diversity, Abundance, and Distribution, edited by the late Alasdair McIntyre, brings together the work of over 2000 scientists from 89 nations around the globe. ChEss has contributed to the book with Chapter 9: Baker et al., Biogeography, Ecology, and Vulnerability of Chemosynthetic Ecosystems in the Deep Sea

June 2009: Photographic Identification Guide to Larvae at Hydrothermal Vents. This guide, co-funded by ChEss, is now available online at: or by request as a CD or hard copy. The purpose of this guide is to assist researchers in the identification of larvae of benthic invertebrates at hydrothermal vents. PDF of advertisment poster. Low resolusion PDF of printed version of book.

April 2009: The Handbook of Hydrothermal Vent Fauna (Desbruyères, Segonzac & Bright, 2006) as been sold out. There is now a link for downloading the entire book for free, subdivided into individual chapters. Follow this link to download (ensure you are in Austrian language on website): [] -> Publikationen -> Denisia -> 18. Supplement & Corrigendum.

Marine Ecology: Advances in Vent, Seep, Whale and Wood Falls Biology.

Oceanography Magazine: Special Edition on InterRidge with topics written by members of the ChEss and InterRidge community. The issue was co-sponsered by ChEss.

DESEO: "Deeper than Light" book in English, Spanish, French, German and Norwegian. A beautifully illustrated publication aimed at the public with stories from the deep. Written by 7 scientists from the DESEO group. A deep sea habitats module was also produced by the DESEO group to accompany the Mar-ECO Deeper than Light exhibit.

September 2010: New ChEss Maps! ArcGIS maps of vent, cold seep and whalefall sites have been constructed usign published information and show a comprehensive overview of all deep-water sites that have been studied with respect to their fauna. By Maria Baker and Daphne Cuvelier.

Available October 2010: FREE DVD! Get a free copy of our DVD of deep-sea hydrothermal vent fauna. More than 500 deep-sea vent species and 30 vent field descriptions, along with an impressive collection of photos and videos. Includes maps, taxonomist list, search and download functions. Contact Maria Baker, NOCS.

May 2010: All Final 2010 TAWNI reports now available online.

September 2010: ChEss and the Encycolpedia of Life (EoL): The ChEss office has set up a LifeDesk and has populated it with information regarding species from deep-water chemosynthetic environments. This information is uploaded directly to EoL. We have so far developed descriptive pages and made contributions for in excess of 550 species.

May 2010: ChEss/EuroCOML animation by Amy Scott-Murray of Blueprint animations ( is now complete and can be viewed via YouTube

October 2010: World Tour! Daphne Cuvelier, Maria Baker and Eva Ramirez-Llodra from ChEss have developed a Google Earth visualisation which takes the viewer on global tours to explore different aspects of deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems. A chronological discovery of these sites is included, along with tours of examples of animals, biogeography, ChEss discoveries and extremes. For a full description of how to get the most of the tour, Read Me! Please note that these visualisations can be altered and added to and this is a work in progress. A free electronic copy of this book will be available online from mid-June 2011.

6th April 2010: First footage from world's deepest known black smokers discovered in the Cayman Trough!!

July 2009: ChEss Co-Chair Chris German talks about the exploration of hydrothermal vents and the ChEss Programme in a two-part short video [Link to CoML video site].

November 2010: ChEss Comic! Javi Aznarez (illustrator) and Raule Anisa (script writer) have created a high quality illustrative comic book for adults and children that describes the real events of the discovery of hydrothermal vents through an amusing fiction story. See the flyer here.  A limited edition English version will be printed by mid-April 2011.  Please contact Maria Baker for a free copy.

October 2010: New Species! Around 200 new species (including new families and new genera) from deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems have been described since 2002, making a total of around 1350 described species from these habitats since their discovery just over 30 years ago - a discovery rate equivalent to one new species described every two weeks. One of these species, Alvinacits chessi, has been named after the ChEss project to honour its committment to systematic study of vent fauna. All new species can be found on ChEssBase and on EoL species pages.

ChEss workshop reports: (1) Moleucular phylogeny and taxonomy of vesciomysid and mytilid bivalves. (2) Siboglinidae: a model system for the understanding of evolution, adaptive radiation, microbial symbioses and ecology at extreme environments. (3) Meiofauna from chemosynthetic deep-sea environments (Meiofauna report).

June 2010: MPA design workshop: Thirty-one experts in ocean governance, industry, and marine scientific (natural sciences and social sciences) research from 14 countries convened for four days in June at the Centre de Recherche et d’Enseignement sur les Systèmes Côtiers (CRESCO) in Dinard, France, with goals of formulating general guidelines for the design of networks of areas for conservation of chemosynthetic ecosystems and outlining research needs to allow better application of spatially based ecosystem management of vent and seep ecosystems. Workshop report to be published in 2011. See photo of parrticipants.

ChEss Minigrant reports: Applications were invited for ChEss-related activities to benefit the CoML synthesis phase producing tangible outputs.

ChEss Finale Posters: The ChEss office has produced a series of 3 posters outlining our main outputs from the ChEss programme. (1) ChEss Times, (2) ChEss Travel, (3) ChEss Education.