Take a peek inside of a tubeworm.
Click on the names to learn about the amazing symbiotic relationship that has formed between tubeworms and bacteria.
The plume is bright red because it is filled with blood. The plume filters oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide from the seawater. The blood then transports these compounds to the bacteria in the cavity. Like human blood, tube worm blood contains hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen. It is the hemoglobin that turns the blood red.
The cavity, or trophosome, is packed with bacteria. The bacteria manufacture sugars through chemosynthesis. The tube worm absorbs some of these sugars and uses them as food.
The tube is made out of a hard substance called chitin, the same material found in the outer skeletons of crabs and shrimp. The tubes protect the worms from predators and the toxic chemicals from the vents. They also serve as an outer skeleton, supporting the worm. A worm can never leave its tube.