Don't let the rainbow glow fool you. This polychaete worm-found 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) down on the muddy seafloor off northern New Zealand—is a ferocious predator, with jaws that project à la the Alien movie monster.
Scientists spotted the creature—and many others—during a three-week expedition this spring throughout four deep-sea regions in the volcano-rich Kermadec Ridge.
Covering 3,800 square miles (9,840 square kilometers), the study area included undersea mountains, continental slopes, canyons, and hydrothermal vents-areas where undersea volcanoes release hot water and gases.
The "exciting" survey turned up several known species, from stalked barnacles to giant mussels, as well as potential new ones, biologist Malcolm Clark said by email.
"Overall, the survey confirmed our belief that the biological communities of the four deep-sea habitats would be different," added Clark, who led the voyage for New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
The research also further illuminated the deep sea, which is "to an extent, out of sight and out of mind," he said.
"In order to ensure that deep-sea ecosystems do not suffer too much damage from things like bottom trawling or mineral extraction, we need to know what animals occur there, and how vulnerable they are to impact."
(See "Pictures: 'Supergiant,' Shrimp-Like Beasts Found in Deep Sea.")