Riftia Podcast: Extras
Most of the creatures that share the planet with us are unknown and unnamed, and there are five billion of them in every teaspoon of soil or water—they’re even inside us. Researcher Colleen Cavanaugh explains.
Heard of CSI, Crime Scene Investigation? Well, Colleen Cavanaugh has plans for MSI—Microbial Science Investigators, where the good microbes are the heroes.
Fully grown Riftia are tubes made of chitin, the same tough substance found in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans and the “beak” of the octopus. Learn more on EOL
Riftia larvae drift searching for a home. When they detect the right chemicals in the water, they settle down on a patch of cooled lava and form a new tube worm colony. Learn more on EOL
Instead of a gut, vent worms have a sac called a trophosome. The trophosome is home to the billions of sulfur-eating bacteria that provide the vent worm with its nourishment. Learn more on EOL
Vent worms and other fauna found at hydrothermal vents flourish in water temperatures that are hot enough to meld lead!
Travel with the submersible Alvin on a virtual dive to a black smoker. You’ll learn how scientists think vents might form and discover how Alvin navigates under water.
Visit these links to learn more about Riftia’s amazing habitat, the deep-sea oases known as “black smokers.”
Learn how the world’s deepest hydrothermal vent was discovered in April 2010, three miles down in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean. Read the expedition blog of the researchers on board the RRS James Cook.
Try your hand at the hydrothermal vent crossword at the American Museum of Natural History’s extensive Black Smoker website.
Read more about it:
Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano (Scientists in the Field) by Kenneth Mallory, Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
The Octopus’s Garden: Hydrothermal Vents and Other Mysteries of the Deep Sea by Cindy Lee van Dover, Helix Books, 1996.