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deep sea worms, gulf of mexico

keith at berserkersoft.demon.co.uk keith at berserkersoft.demon.co.uk
Sat Aug 9 14:31:53 EST 1997

[Moderator's note: Full details of the Fisher lab's discovery of
methane-ice associated polychaetes can be found at:
This page also gives an excellant overview of the hydrocarbon seep
environment and community. To follow up on the message below, primary
productivity at hydrocarbon seeps and hydrothermal vents is based on
chemoautotrophic bacteria.  These bacteria fix carbons using energy derived
from hydrogen sulphide.]

On 4 Aug 1997 07:04:29 -0700, Glenn <wa6bxw at gotnet.net> wrote:

>one of the Sacramento tv stations had a short news piece about deep sea
>worms discovered in the gulf of mexico at depth 1800 feet.

The magazine New Scientist Has covered this in an article about two
thirds of a page with a colour picture. in the 9th of August issue.

It certainly seems a weird environment for an animal.

> according to
>the news brief, the worms apparently feed on bacteria, and possibly farm
>them much like the ants do the aphids. the bacteria apparently feed on
>"methane ice,"  which was the term the newscasters used.

I think the bacteria bit is a conjecture on the basis that bacteria
can often to use energy from a wide  range of sources but simple
animals including polychaetes (bristle worms) cannot.

[ Although I thought I once heard of a variety of prawn that lives by
volcanic vents in the sea floor by metabolising hydrogen sulphide. is
this true ? ]

The article quotes a deep see biologist Charles Fisher in saying  that
the first worms were found on ice which had only just emerged from the
mud and they were adults. It continued to say that this suggests that
they were well established before the ice errupted from the sea bed.

	Keith G Bennett

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