Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Pompeii Worm Alvinella pomejana
This extraordinary worm lives in thin tubes massed together on the sides of chimneys of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The tubes are close to the chimneys’ openings, where water from deep inside Earth pours out at temperatures of up to 660°F (350°C). The temperature within the worm tubes reaches 160°F (70°C). At its head end, the Pompeii Worm has a group of large gills and a mouth surrounded by tentacles. Each of the worm’s body segments has appendages on the side called parapodia. The posterior parapodia have many hairlike outgrowths that carry a mass of chemosynthetic bacteria. The bacteria manufacture food that the worm absorbs, and the worm also eats some of the bacteria.