Our world oceans are teeming with absolutely fascinating microscopic life. These mini marine monsters and micro marvels defy description and are among the most intriguing creatures Mother Nature creates.
Take “Jaws Junior” here, for example. This is not an artificial image created in some graphics hack shop using the latest animation wizardry from Pixar® Studios.
It’s a real, live creature called a Hydrothermal Worm. And it’s really, really tiny. So small in fact, that you need a very special type of microscope to even see it. This image comes from an electron microscope which uses beams of electrons instead of light to capture the incredible details which bring these jaws to life.
Taken using an FEI Quanta SEM scanning electron microscope, this image is magnified about 525 times. To give you an idea of the scale, the mouth of Jaws Junior pictured here is about 255um wide, or about ¼ of a millimeter.
And as scary as he looks, you won’t have to worry about bumping into him on your next beach visit. Bobbing away in the dark depths of the ocean floor, hydrothermal worms are deep sea creatures, almost as small as bacterium, and are mainly found near active hydrothermal vents in the ocean’s bottom.
A hydrothermal vent is sort of like an underwater geyser. They form when seawater, super-heated by contact with molten magma, rises up through cracks in the ocean’s crust to shoot above the colder, dense surrounding ocean water.
These vents are in a very tough environment, with sea water pressures 300 times greater than your swimming pool and temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means our friend Jaws Junior and the millions of organisms like him, have definitely earned our respect, and their place in the microscopic world.