PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep ocean scale worm (Lepidonotopodium piscesae), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) showing close-up of mouthparts. This species of worm inhabits the edges of hydrothermal vent 'black smokers' 2,500-3,000 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. They 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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