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Strange Creatures Found Off New Zealand Volcanos

Don’t let the rainbow glow fool you. This polychaete worm-identified 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) down on the muddy seafloor off northern New Zealand—is a ferocious predator, with jaws that project à la the Alien film monster.

Scientists spotted the creature—and many others—during a three-week expedition this spring throughout four deep-sea regions in the volcano-wealthy Kermadec Ridge.

Covering 3,800 square miles (9,840 square kilometers), the study location included undersea mountains, continental slopes, canyons, and hydrothermal vents-regions exactly where undersea volcanoes release hot water and gases.

The “exciting” survey turned up numerous identified species, from stalked barnacles to giant mussels, as well as potential new ones, biologist Malcolm Clark mentioned by e-mail.

“Overall, the survey confirmed our belief that the biological communities of the four deep-sea habitats would be different,” added Clark, who led the voyage for New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

The research also additional illuminated the deep sea, which is “to an extent, out of sight and out of mind,” he said.

“In order to guarantee that deep-sea ecosystems do not suffer too much damage from factors like bottom trawling or mineral extraction, we need to know what animals happen there, and how vulnerable they are to influence.”

( via news.nationalgeographic.com )