Giant tube worms Facts

Giant tube worms Facts
Giant tube worms are marine invertebrates that belong to the family of polychaete annelid worms. These unusual creatures were discovered in 1977. Since that time, more than 300 new species of giant tube worms were identified. Giant tube worms can survive in the complete darkness, on a depth of 5.280 feet. They inhabit areas near the hydrothermal vents (openings in the ocean floor that look like giant chimneys) that release extremely hot water filled with various minerals. Since they live in remote areas with harsh environmental conditions, giant tube worms are not threatened by humans.
Interesting Giant tube worms Facts:
Giant tube worms can reach 8 feet in length and 1.6 inches in diameter.
Giant tube worms have soft, colorless body hidden inside hard tube made of chitin (shells of crustaceans are composed of same substance). Tube offers protection against predators.
Giant tube worms do not have eyes, mouth, stomach and legs.
Giant tube worms spend their life firmly attached to the seafloor. Some species develop root-like structures to ensure stronger connection with substrate.
Upper part of the body is called "plume". It can be exposed (when giant tube worm collects minerals) or hidden inside the tube (in the case of danger).
Plume is red colored because it contains great quantity of complex, oxygen-carrying pigment, better known as hemoglobin, which is red colored.
Giant tube worms live in symbiosis (mutual beneficial relationship) with microorganisms. Bacteria synthesize food in return for the accommodation and chemical compounds that giant tube worm provides.
Giant tube worms have green-brown spongy tissue called trophosome, made of specialized cells filled with microorganisms (285 billion bacteria per ounce of tissue).
Plume collects oxygen, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from the water. Bacteria convert these molecules into carbohydrates (sugar), which giant tube worms use as a source of food.
Giant tube worms are adapted to life in extreme conditions. They can withstand pressure of 2.000 pounds per square inch and rapid changes in water temperature (from boiling to freezing).
Few deep sea creatures such as deep sea crabs and shrimps, large brown mussels and giant clams are predators of giant tube worms (they feed on plumes).
Giant tube worms have external fertilization. Males and females release eggs and sperm cells directly into the water (by retracting their plumes). Larvae are mobile and equipped with mouth and gut, because they need to collect bacteria that are essential for the second part (sedentary) of their life.
Larvae swim until they found suitable hydrothermal vent on the bottom of the sea.
Giant tube worms grow rapidly and quickly colonize new areas. They reach sexual maturity before the age of 2 years.
Exact lifespan of giant tube worms is unknown. They disappear (die out) after shutting down of hydrothermal vents.

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