Hydrothermal vents exist where cracks or rifts in the seafloor spew forth volcanically heated, chemical-rich seawater, whereas cold seeps, as their name reflects, are far less intense environments where fluids laden with methane and other hydrocarbons slowly seep out of the seafloor and cover a large area.
The team coined the phrase "hydrothermal seep" to describe the ecosystem. Their research is published in the March 7 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Although researchers had previously sent remotely operated vehicles to the site, the 2010 expedition marked the first time humans ever visited, which proved key to the discovery, Levin said.
"It was not until human eyes saw shimmering water coming from beneath a large tubeworm bush that we really understood how special Jaco Scar is," she said.
Recent expeditions have uncovered many interesting creatures new to science at hydrothermal vent sites around the planet. Near Antarctica, researchers spied yeti crabs clambering on the hot volcanic vents, and in the Caribbean, scientists found swarms of eyeless shrimp.