Now, researchers are discovering that these unusual sinkholes are home to extraordinary communities of microscopic bacteria. The organisms are not new to science, but preliminary genetic analysis is showing that they are relatives of bacteria that live in the subglacial lakes of Antarctica. Others are functionally similar to the extremophile bacteria living on the black smokers of the deep ocean.
The sinkholes were discovered in 2001, when a sonar expedition searching for shipwrecks found deep pits, up to 100 metres across, in the lake floor. The underwater pits have formed in places where an ancient underlying seabed is dissolving.