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Bahamas Blue Hole

Image of Bahamas Blue Hole
BLUE HOLES: For more than a billion years during Earth's middle age, the oceans are thought to have been oxygen-free due to the way microorganisms in the water made their living. Fossil remains of purple bacteria that harvested light but didn't produce oxygen are preserved in billion-year-old marine rocks. Today, in flooded caves found on islands in the Bahamas called "blue holes," astrobiologists study dense blooms of purple and green bacteria that also harvest light without producing oxygen. Their lifestyle contrasts with that of modern plants and cyanobacteria that produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, providing the oxygen-rich atmosphere that supports humans and other multicellular life. The image was captured by a team of scientists and expert cave divers on a National Geographic expedition led by Kenneth Broad (University of Miami). Image credit: Wes Skiles.
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