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EarthSky // Today's Image Release Date: Nov 17, 2013

Bioluminescent tube worm

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego are unraveling the mechanisms behind the dazzling bioluminescent display of this tube worm.

Via Dimitri Deheyn at Scripps

The light from this sea creature – called a parchment tube worm (Chaetopterus) – comes from a slimy bioluminescent mucus, released into seawater as puffs of blue light. Image courtesy Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Used with permission.

Meet Chaetopterus, also called a “parchment tube worm.”

It’s a marine tube worm that makes its home in ooze and produces light via bioluminescence. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have called the worms’ bioluminescent display dazzling. This display comes in the form of puffs of blue light, released into sea water. These scientists and their colleagues are unraveling the mechanisms behind Chaetopterus’ bioluminescent display.

Read more about the research on this creature from Scripps.

The parchment tube worms get their name from the opaque, cocoon-like cylinders in which they live. They’re found around the world in muddy environments, from shallow bays to deeper ocean canyons.

Courtesy of Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

Scripps Institution of Oceanograpy scientist Dimitri Deheyn and colleagues at Georgetown University tracked this worm’s bioluminescence to the generation to a specific “photoprotein.” Image courtesy Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Used with permission.

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