Researchers from MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) were searching the depths of the Gulf of California when they came across a species of orange pom pom. What was that mysterious mass?
After carrying out a DNA test and a detailed analysis, the researchers concluded that they were dealing with a new species of Biremis spaghetti worm , with a bright orange body and a large number of peach tentacles.
Biremis is a rare type of spaghetti worm that was only known from the Bahamas. Its name comes from the Latin bi remis (two oars) and refers to the fact that they use their tentacles to sweep and collect their food. This creature has no eyes, no gills. Its tentacles are inflated, making it look like a pom-pom.
The spaghetti worm is a type of polychaete worm in the family Terebellidae . So far, about 400 different species of terebellids have been described, which are found all over the world. It is relatively common and is characterized by having a good number of ribbed tentacles that it uses to feed itself. As with other terebellids, Biremis lives on the ocean floor , but while most stay inside a tube or in a burrow, this species has been observed resting on the seafloor or swimming just above it. Swimming allows the worm to move easily and find new places to feed.
MBARI researchers use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to document the biodiversity of the deep sea. They have made more than 6,100 deep sea dives and from time to time they have found an animal that has amazed them, like this new species of Biremis .
Researchers believe that in the mysterious deep waters of the ocean there are more peculiar creatures waiting to be discovered . Although naming a species may seem like a simple task, the truth is that it is a process that takes time and dedication: you have to collect specimens, examine the key characteristics that distinguish each species, sequence the DNA and finally assign it a scientific name. The Gulf of California species has yet to be described , but the team hopes to formally publish a detailed description in the scientific literature once they learn more about its appearance, genetics, and natural history. In the last 35 years, MBARI researchers have discovered more than 240 new species, including 30 worms.
“Although we have yet to discover and describe most of the species that live in the deep ocean, these animals face a fragile future . Threats such as overfishing, pollution and climate change extend to deep waters as well. Because we know so little about the deep ocean, MBARI’s efforts to document the diversity of life in this realm are laying the foundation for understanding how these threats will affect deep-sea communities,” the researchers say in a published statement. on the MBARI website.
Referencia: Schlining. K. 2022. August 2, 2022. Robots documenting deep-sea biodiversity reveal a spectacular spaghetti worm. https://www.mbari.org/spaghetti-worm-sighting/