by | May 19, 2022 | 0 comments

The Wacky Underwater World 

What animal lives more than 250 years but never eats a thing? If you guessed the deep-sea tubeworm Escarpia laminata, you would be correctand also probably a deep-sea biologist!  

Escarpia laminata lives near deep-sea cold seeps, places where methane (natural gas) and toxic hydrogen sulfide gas leak from the sea floor. Although it is among the longest living animals known, E. laminata never has to eat. In fact, it does not even have a mouth! Instead, its body is filled with a special type of bacteria that absorbs hydrogen sulfide from seawater and uses it to power chemosynthesis, a process similar to photosynthesis except it is fueled by chemical energy (sulfide oxidation) rather than sunlight.  

Deep-sea tubeworms can grow in large colonies, as seen in this image taken by a research submarine during one of Dr. Fisher’s expeditions (Photo credit: Fisher Deep-Sea Lab).  

Escarpia laminata is also one of over 1,000 new samples donated to OGL by retired researcher Dr. Charles Fisher, and it was accessioned into the OGL collection by OGL’s newest undergraduate research co-op, Lee Fenuccio (a co-author of this newsletter). During his career, Dr. Fisher was a leading pioneer in studying deep sea organisms. Lee, on the other hand, is an aspiring researcher just getting started in their career. Together, their efforts are creating a new resource that that deep-sea biologists, and scientists of all stripes, will be able to study and explore. 

An example of an E. laminata voucher specimen (left) and tissue sample (right) from Dr. Charles Fisher that have been accessioned into the OGL collection. The voucher specimen contains several tubeworms preserved in ethanol, and the tissue sample is stored at –80° Celsius. (Photo credit: Lee Fenuccio, OGL) 

Interested in helping OGL acquire more specimens for research? Donate here. 


What’s that fish? OGL tackles seafood security

Have you ever wondered how the fish on your plate is identified? How do you know if a fish is labeled correctly? Unfortunately, seafood mislabeling is a major problem that negatively effects consumers, marine conservation, sustainable fisheries management, and public...

Diving into an ancient forest

Although it sounds like the stuff of fairytales, there really is an ancient forest, made of actual trees, sitting on the sea floor off the coast of Alabama -- and OGL biologists are about to explore it.   At OGL, our mission is to preserve the threatened...

Tuna, flounder, and mackerel, oh my!

Correctly identifying a fish to its species is an important skill for any young biologist to develop. In March, Ocean Genome Legacy taught students to do just that with its “Fish Forensics” workshops at the Boston High School Marine Science Symposium and the North...

OGL discovers a new species (and genus!)

“Discovering a new genus is rare and should be celebrated.” So says Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) Postdoctoral Research Scientist Reuben Shipway in the video abstract for his new publication in the journal PeerJ. Meet the new genus of shipworm: Tamilokus mabinia. Image...

Finding Fishy Businesses

For the past two years, OGL has had a secret. Our scientists have been quietly working with the New York State Office of the Attorney General to develop a DNA-based seafood monitoring program - the first such program to be conducted by a government organization in the...