Sea worm deploy bioluminescent flares to distract predators

bioluminescent sea worm

Researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California, exploring the depths of the Pacific Ocean, have discovered several new species of bioluminescent sea worms. Some of the sea worms have modified gills on their heads that are detachable and flare green when released, presumably as counter-measure against attacking predators.

When captured worms were examined in the lab, [Lead researcher Karen] Osborn noticed the organs being ejected into the water, where they started shining brightly for several seconds before slowly dying away.

Bioluminescence is common in the deep sea and is used by creatures for a range of purposes, including avoiding predators, communication and attracting prey. Osborn thinks her worms use their glow bombs to distract predators while they make an escape. [New Scientist]

Karen Osborn also told BBC News:

“This group of really fantastic animals emphasises just how much we have to learn about deep sea organisms and deep sea biodiversity.”

Via io9.

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