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planktonic worm

Crystal sea serpent

A miniature serpent? Scientists found this glassy planktonic worm in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. A relative of earthworms, it uses its red-tipped swimming paddles to swim through the water in serpentine curves, hunting smaller animals. When threatened, worms of this species (Tomopteris, meaning “cut wings”) release clouds of yellow sparks—an unusual color in the sea, where bioluminescence is normally blue. This image is also featured in the WHOI 2010 wall calendar  available for purchase online.
(Photo by Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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