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|Giant Tube Worms|
The Giant Tube Worm can grow to over 6 feet tall (over 2 meters in length)
Found around deep sea hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean approximately 1 mile (5280 ft) below the water surface.
The body of the giant tube worm is colorless and holds a trophosome (a large sack that contains the animal’s organs); a tough tube made of chitin protects this soft body. A large red plume projects from the tube’s opening; hemoglobin, an oxygen carrying protein, gives this plume a distinctive red color. This plume is used to collect nutrients from the surrounding water. Tube worms have no mouth, stomach, or eyes.
As the tectonic plates along the ocean floor move, cracks are formed. Cold seawater seeps deep down into the openings. The sea water is heated by molten rock in the Earth’s mantle, below the crust. As the water heats, chemical reactions occur. oxygen, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals are removed from the seawater. The deeper the fluid goes, the hotter it gets. Copper, zinc, iron, and sulfur from the crust dissolve into the fluid. The super-heated fluid, now laden with dissolved metals, rises. As the hot fluid gushes out onto the ocean floor, it meets cold, oxygen-rich seawater, which spurs more chemical reactions. Hydrogen sulfide (a compound toxic to most organisms) forms and minerals "rain out" from the fluid; these create the hydrothermal vent areas that are home to the giant tube worm. When a hydrothermal vent stops flowing, the organisms around the vents disappear or die off.
|Monday, 01 November 2010 09:01|
Watch as Dr. Robert Ballard discusses the discovery of Tube Worms!
Join Mystic Aquarium's Kelly Matis and MaryEllen Mateleska for a fun five minutes devoted to November's featured species: the Giant Tube Worm! In this podcast they tackle the age-old question, "What if live existed with no light?" Kelly and MaryEllen discuss the hydrothermal vent community and how animals can exist with virtually no light.
Kelly and MaryEllen want to hear from you! Send questions, comments and suggestions for future podcast topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scientific Name: Riftia pachyptila
Size: Over 6 feet tall
Range: Hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean
Predators: None but shrimp and crabs will feed off of the tube worm's plume
Life Expectancy: Maximum lifespan in unknown
Conservation status: Not Evaluated
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