In order to raise chicks the farmer keeps the eggs warm and is careful not to crush them. But when scientists in the University of Southern California rear tubeworms, they keep the immature worms very cold and under high pressure.
You would think the scientists are being cruel by subjecting these little worms to such extreme conditions. They are not.
The worms can thrive only under these circumstances, because they live in the deep sea where it is very cold. They thrive on the sulphurous vents of volcanoes at a depth of 8,000 feet in the Pacific Ocean.
The tubeworms, which resemble giant, spindly stalks of bamboo, live in clusters of millions, covering huge areas on the ocean floor. They have a thin, flexible, tube on their bodies made from secretions of a hard, mineral substance or from sand granules that provides them protection and support.
The giant tubeworm
They grow to enormous lengths; some have even been known to grow up to 10 feet in length. They have no eyes, mouths or intestines and are sustained by a scientific process known as chemosynthesis.
They do not have food as we know it. They can just make do with some chemicals seeping out of volcanic vents on the sea floor. This process of using chemicals for their body’s needs is called chemosynthesis. But, not all tubeworms show such behaviour. Some kinds gather small bits of food from the water with their tentacles.