SWIMA WORM or BOMB DROPPING WORM (Swima bombiviridis)
The centipede-like worms have transparent bodies coated with detachable ‘green bombs’. This bizarre sea creature sends out bright flares from its body to scare off predators.
This bomb-dropping worm, Swima bombiviridis, is among the top 10 species discovered in 2009, according to the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.
- Swima is a genus of polychaete worm that lives in the deep ocean
- This deep ocean pelagic (free-swimming) annelid has modified bioluminescent gills that can be cast off from an individual.
- These discarded gills somewhat resemble green “bombs” that remain illuminated for several seconds after they have been discarded.
- It is thought that this is a defensive mechanism rather than reproductive, as it is seen in both mature and juvenile individuals.
- Animals of the Swima genus are closely related to the recently discovered Teuthidodrilus genus, another pelagic cirratuliform of the bathyal zone.
One of the US scientists, Dr Karen Osborn, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, said: ‘We found a whole new group of fairly large, extraordinary animals that we never knew anything about before.
‘These are not rare animals. Often when we see them they number in the hundreds. What’s unique is that their habitat is really hard to sample.’
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