Scientists bestowed the nickname ‘squidworm’ on this previously unknown species found using a remotely operated vehicle in 2007. The four-inch-long creature has tentacles on its head and rows of bundled spines on its body that paddle like oars of a Roman galley.
The squidworm is a denizen of the ocean’s twilight zone, which extends around the world from about 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface of the ocean.
Also known as the mesopelagic or the mid-water region of the ocean, this vast and largely unexplored realm below the sunlit surface waters is teeming with marine life, which may include more fish biomass than in the rest of the world’s ocean. Tiny particles swirl down through the darkness like snow, and flashes of bioluminescence give it an otherworldly feel.
The twilight zone is home to the most common vertebrate on the planet, a multitude of yet undiscovered species, and the largest animal migration on Earth, as animals from the zone travel to surface waters to feed at night and then return to the relative safety of deeper waters during the day.
Life in the twilight zone is also intertwined with Earth’s climate, helping to control the rate at which the ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide and transfers it to the deep ocean, where it can remain for hundreds or even thousands of years.