• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Softball: Gauchos Split Final Road Games at Hawai'i https://t.co/CpEDdmmhVc
    8 hours 44 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Gauchos are live on @ESPN3 ! WATCH >>> https://t.co/io6ZzYs9Hg https://t.co/BEO8wTxv62
    13 hours 50 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Congrats to Leah Foltz for winning the #UCSB Grad Slam! Now she moves onto the UC-wide competition in SF on May 4th! https://t.co/kVqCtOTWb7
    20 hours 44 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Former @UCSB_Baseball LHP Dom Mazza speaks with his hometown paper after throwing a perfecto this week! https://t.co/GPc3B3qL9g
    21 hours 4 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    Watch pianist #MurrayPerahia's breathtaking and imaginative performance, tonight at 7PM at UCSB Campbell Hall!… https://t.co/M83EeA6Y53
    23 hours 49 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Softball: Hawai'i Tops UCSB 5-1 in Gauchos' Final Road Series Opener https://t.co/ejf0MWM1g0
    1 day 7 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Gauchos Sweep Past UCI 4-0 https://t.co/WFwbxDV8eA
    1 day 9 hours ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    We're happy to see you back, alumni! Don't miss the great events we have this weekend. #AllGauchoReunion… https://t.co/Sbz4iirr7i
    1 day 13 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Women's Tennis: Cal Poly 0, UC Santa Barb. 4 (Final) No.2 UCSB blanks No.7 Cal Poly in Big West Quarterfinal 4-0 https://t.co/m4kdACQFo5
    1 day 13 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSB_Baseball vs. UC Riverside on @ESPN3 is live now! Watch here >>> https://t.co/QJMvNLa0mQ
    1 day 13 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    WWP: Defending Big West Champs Defeated by No. 12 LBSU in Another Overtime Match https://t.co/XIO3RJdo9p
    1 day 14 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Top-Seeded UCSB Set to Host Big West Golf Championship at Sandpiper GC https://t.co/SyXPKB2Ur5
    1 day 15 hours ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    RT @ForestSways: CEMA poster preservation for primary source research. #Chicanohertiage @Marikhasmanyan @UCSBLibrary #sca17 https://t.co/M…
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    @AmldavisAnn We're glad you're interested in using, please contact (805) 893-3062 or @library.ucsb.edu">special@library.ucsb.edu for m… https://t.co/fwAVOMoWyB
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • UCSB_GradPost twitter avatar
    CPT F-1 Visa workshop for international students on May 11 https://t.co/l6xZEndRVl #UCSB #ucsbgradpost
    1 day 17 hours ago

DEEP SEA TUBE WORMS SURVIVE IN CAPTIVITY

Tuesday, January 27, 1998 - 16:00
Santa Barbara, CA

Twenty-nine bright red tube worms from the bottom of the ocean are alive and thriving in a lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Until now, the giant hydrothermal vent tube worms have never lived for more than a few days once they have been removed from their natural habitat at the edge of hot, boiling vents on the ocean's floor.

The 29 worms are in the lab of James Childress, professor of zoology at UCSB, and an authority on the organisms that live around vents on the ocean bottom. Childress has studied vent tube worms since they were first discovered in 1977.

All but one of the new collection of tube worms, called riftia pachyptila, have survived for more than a month in the lab, and are expected to live indefinitely. Water temperature appears to be a key factor in keeping the worms alive.

Previously, scientists kept the worms in cold water, like the icy cold water of the deep ocean. Researchers now believe that the worms require a warmer habitat since the hot water of the vents contributes to a zone of mixed water of moderate temperature.

In fact, the worms appear to be most comfortable at a tepid 80 degrees.

"They like water to be warm like we do; bathtub temperature," said Peter Girguis, a graduate student who has been monitoring the worms since they were collected.

The worms are being kept in ocean water with hydrogen sulphide pumped in to make the environment similar to that of a deep ocean vent. This gas, which is poisonous to most forms of life, provides food to the bacteria that live in the worms. The worms survive by periodically feeding on the bacteria.

So far, the exotic worms appear to be happy in the lab. They are growing new tube, the white casing that they create as housing. The worms are lengthening as well. In the ocean, the worms grow from a few millimeters to more than two feet.

To collect the worms, researchers used Alvin, a small research submarine with robotic arms. They traveled 2.5 miles to the bottom of the ocean to collect the worms which were living under the pressure of two tons per square inch.

They were found at hydrothermal vent sites along a deep ocean rift called the East Pacific Rise. Alvin's robotic arm was used to collect the worms and put them into a thermally insulated box. Back on the ship, the worms were immediately transferred to pressurized containers.

On Christmas day, the worms were transferred to another pressurized container in a lab at UCSB where they have been thriving ever since. According to Childress, they are the only such vent worms to survive away from their natural habitat.

A number of experiments are planned for the worms, as well as for the bacteria that live in symbiosis with them. If the worms continue to live as expected, then scientists from around the world will be able to conduct experiments on the animals at UCSB, rather than having to go on a research cruise to collect them.