La Jolla class wins Birch Aquarium name-the-deep-sea-worm contest

The Children's School students named the worm on the left.  Photos: Birch Aquarium
The Children's School students named the worm on the left. Photos: Birch Aquarium

Press Release

The first-graders in Room 2 from The Children’s School and a San Diego teenager are winners of the Birch Aquarium’s contest to name two new species of deep-sea worms.

The worms were discovered by researchers in the Scripps Marine Invertebrate Phylogenetics Lab, who selected three finalists for each species from among 165 suggestions.

The chosen names were revealed on Wednesday, World Oceans Day, during a special kelp tank dive show at the aquarium. The public voted online for their choices, which will become the official scientific names of the species.

The Children's School students were selected to name the worm belonging to the genus


  1. The students submitted the species name


, the Greek word for "whale hunter."

The name submitted by 19-year-old Laura McIntyre, will be given to the worm belonging to the genus


  1. She gave it the species name


, the Latin word for "sea monsters.”

Names were received from 22 states as well as from Greece and Taiwan. Participants were asked to follow proper naming conventions as detailed in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, as well as provide a description of how they came up with their suggestion.

The Children's School Room 3 first graders were among the finalists with their name,

Podarkeopsis bathyzonatos

  1. Bathyzonatos is the Greek translation of deep-living.

More than 1,100 votes were cast for the finalists. Votes were received from a dozen countries, including Indonesia, Italy, Japan and South Africa. Scripps scientists, in association with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, discovered the worms living upon whale carcasses that had fallen to the ocean floor off Monterey. These "whale falls" spawn unique communities of marine animals that can feed off the carcass for decades.

The worms, which measure only a few centimeters in length, are part of the family


  1. Only 10 hesionids have been described from the deep sea, and only one has been described from a whale fall. In total, Scripps scientists discovered six new species of worms on whale falls.

SOURCE: Birch Aquarium



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