Cold seeps refer to areas where hydrocarbon gases and oil naturally seep out of sediments. Methane in particular is used by bacteria as a primary source of energy through a process called chemosynthesis. In sediments without oxygen, the consumption of methane is done with a reduction of sulfates that produces hydrogen sulfides. These sulfides, as methane, can be further used as a source of energy for thiotrophic bacteria. Methanotrophic and thiotrophic bacteria are living either freely in sediments or in symbiosis with larger animals, in particular bivalves and tube worms. The local production of organic matter through chemosynthesis gives rise to flourishing animal communities in an otherwise food-poor deep sea.
Some of these ecosystems are featured on these videos.