Above, the marine fireworm is seen in its non-exuding state.
The animal has four eyes, colored red in the picture, which are sensitive to the unique bioluminescent expulsions of marine fireworms.
Among the many intriguing aspects of the marine fireworm is the staying power of the glow it creates, thought to be created by a specific light-producing protein, or "photoprotein." As part of the Scripps study of the worms, it was found by researchers Dimitri Deheyn and Michael Latz that the goo glows in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
The fluorescent photoprotein in the worm's goo may have commercial applications. "If we understand how it's possible to keep light so stable for such a long time, [the process could be used] in biomedical, bioengineering, or other fields," Deheyn said in a statement.
Photograph by Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography