The pigbutt worm or flying buttocks (Chaetopterus pugaporcinus) is a newly discovered species of worm found by scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. The worm is round in shape, approximately the size of a hazelnut, and bears a strong resemblance to a disembodied pair of buttocks. The worm has been recently observed residing just below the oxygen minimum zone between 900 and 1,200 metres (3,000 to 4,000 feet) deep — even when the sea floor is significantly deeper. The worms have also been observed floating with their mouths surrounded by a cloud of mucus. Current theories suggest that they reside in this area of the ocean because of its cornucopia of detritus and marine snow, and that the worms use these mucus clouds to capture particles of food and “snow.” (Source).
This is a Pompeii worm(Alvinella pompejana). In 1997, nearly 21 years after the discovery of the first hydrothermal vent system, marine biologist Craig Cary and colleagues identified the most heat-tolerant animal on Earth, the Pompeii worm. Pompeii worms were initially discovered by French researchers in the early 1980’s and are described as deep-sea polychaetes that reside in tubes near hydrothermal vents along the seafloor. They can reach up to 5 inches in length and are pale gray with red tentacle-like gills on their heads. Perhaps most fascinating, is that their tail end is often resting in temperatures as high as 176º F, while their feather-like head sticks out of the tubes into water that is a much cooler 72º F. Scientists are attempting to understand how Pompeii worms can withstand such extreme temperatures by studying the bacteria that form a “fleece-like” covering on their backs. Living in a symbiotic relationship, the worms secrete mucous from tiny glands on their backs to feed the bacteria, and in return they are protected by some degree of insulation. The bacteria have also been discovered to be chemolithotrophic, contributing to the ecology of the vent community (Source).
The predatory tunicate (Megalodicopia hians) is a species of tunicate (see thesetwo previous posts) which lives anchored along the deep sea canyon walls and seafloor, waiting for tiny animals to drift or swim into its hood-shaped mouth. Looking something like a cross between a jellyfish and a Venus Flytrap (see this post), its mouthlike hood is quick to close when a small animal drifts inside. Once the predatory tunicate catches a meal, it keeps its trap shut until it is ready to eat again. They are known to live in the Monterey Canyon at depths of 200–1,000 metres (660–3,300 ft). They mostly eat zooplankton and tiny animals.
The googly-eyed glass squid(Teuthowenia pellucida) is a rare, slightly blue and transparent deep-sea squid. It gets its name from its disproportionately large eyes. It has eight short tentacles and one slightly longer pair. Its internal digestive organs and the females eggs can be visible through its transparent body. It is able to engorge itself with surrounding water to dramatically increase in size, portraying a more intimidating appearance to potential predators. Like most squid, it can also escape predators using jet propulsion. The cells of its eyes and tentacles form small light-emitting organs (bioluminescent photophores). This array of small lights is used to mask the true identity of the googly-eyed squid to others in the dark. For more on glass squid, see this post.