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A strange seabed creature covered in luminous orange spaghetti-like tentacles has recently made its internet debut in newly released video footage. The unusual pom-pom-shaped creature is actually a type of segmented sea worm known as a polychaete, and it belongs to an aptly named group: spaghetti worms.
Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) captured images of the pasta-mimicking worm in 2012 using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), as they explored the Gulf of California off the coast of Mexico . They took out the video (opens in a new tab) July 1 on the MBARI YouTube channel to celebrate World Polychaete Day.
This particular species of spaghetti worm does not yet have an official name, but it belongs to the genus Biremi. It has no eyes or gills and uses its colorful tentacles to grab the tiny bits of organic detritus, also known as sea snow, that it feeds on, according to a TWO statements (opens in a new tab).
Most spaghetti worms live in burrows or tunnels under the seabed and only push their noodle-like tentacles through the water to grab bits of food. But this Biremi The worm spends its life above ground and has previously been observed swimming in the water or crawling along the seabed to find places where food is plentiful, according to MBARI.
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Another group of MBARI researchers first discovered the unnamed spaghetti worm species in 2003 after spotting it in the Gulf of California using a different ROV. But nearly two decades after that initial sighting, scientists are still working to name the species.
“While naming a species its own seems like a simple process, it actually takes a lot of time and dedication to collect specimens, examine key characteristics, sequence DNA and assign a scientific name,” the authors said. MBARI representatives in the statement.
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It’s unclear exactly how deep this worm may reside, but the majority of sightings have taken place below 6,560 feet (2,000 meters) below the surface, according to MBARI.
This spaghetti worm highlights how little scientists know about deep-sea species and the roles these animals play in their ecosystems. Continued exploration of the deep ocean and the creatures that live there is of vital importance, especially as many deep sea ecosystems are degraded by destructive practices like deep sea mining or trawling. , according to MBARI.
“There is no doubt that many other wonderful verses like Biremi are waiting to be discovered in the mysterious depths of the ocean,” MBARI representatives said.
Originally posted on Live Science.