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Kate Buckman with specimen

Giant worm from the deep sea

MIT/WHOI Joint Program student Kate Buckman stands in front of the submersible Alvin, holding the iconic animal from undersea hydrothermal vents: a giant tubeworm (Riftia pachyptila.) The fast-growing worms have fascinated biologists since their discovery as part of an ecosystem—from bacteria to fishes—that depends on chemical energy from the earth, not light from the sun. Buckman, a student in biologist Tim Shank’s lab, studies the genetics and ecology of hydrothermal vent fishes. On this cruise in June 2008, using Alvin, she collected animals for genetic analysis from 2,500m (1.5 mile)-deep vent sites at 9 degrees North off the west coast of Mexico. (Photo by Lance Wills, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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