This close-up image of a tube worm was taken by NOAA researchers from the Okeanos Explorer Program in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a large tube worm species that lives exclusively near cold seeps where hydrocarbons and other chemicals rise from vents in the ocean floor. The tube worms secrete a substance that hardens to form a rigid tube that provides protection as well as a place to live. The feathery plume at the top of the worm serves as gills for respiration. It also allows the animals to filter food from the surrounding seawater.