PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep ocean worm (Nereis sandersi), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) showing close-up of mouthparts. This species of worm was collected from the edge of a hydrothermal vent 'black smoker' 2,630 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. These worms feed on bacteria that live directly off minerals released by the vents (a process known as chemosynthesis). The worms also host a population of symbiotic bacteria that may supply the worm with additional nutrients. Hydrothermal vents are found along geologically active zones deep underwater. The vents release superheated water and dense mineral deposits, forming huge towers that support a wide variety of fauna.
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