August 21, 2009

‘Bomber’ sea worms found off Oregon

Luminescent sea worms that eject glowing green blobs have been found off the Oregon coast at depths up to 11,000 feet, scientists said.

Oregon is the hotbed for these guys, said co-discoverer Karen J. Osborn, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

Using a remotely operated submarine, Osborn and her team found the worms they dubbed Green Bombers between 5,900 and 11,000 feet below the surface, The Oregonian reported Friday.

The worms, formally named Swima bombiviridis, have glowing bombs attached just below the head that eject when the worms are disturbed. The green bombs likely serve as decoys to distract predators.

The worms evaded detection until recently because they are fast, agile, just one-half to 3 inches long and swim in water often ignored by scientists who head straight to the ocean floor to look for new species, Osborn writes in the journal Science.