giant tubeworms

Some of Earth's oddest creatures live around
deep-sea hydrothermal (hot water) vents. These vents spew plumes of hot, mineral-rich water from cracks in the ocean floor. Life here must endure intense pressure, extreme heat, and harsh chemicals. One of the most exotic animals here is the giant tubeworm. Waving in the water, giant tubeworms grow in clusters around the vents.

giant tubeworm
Scientific name: Riftia pachyptila
Size: over six feet tall
Habitat: hydrothermal vents in the deep sea
Diet: symbiotic bacteria provide nutrition
Characteristics: white tubes with some yellow from sulfide stains, and red-tipped plumes
Cool fact: the fastest-growing marine invertebrate; can grow more than 33 inches in a year

Image credits: main image, courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.