#5270 – Marine Worm (Flota)
2018 50c Bioluminescent Life
Value: 50¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate- Forever
Issued: February 22, 2018
First Day City: Fort Pierce, FL
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 40,000,000 stamps
Near the ocean floor off the coast of California, small worms known as flotas light up bright blue.
Flotas are members of the Polychaeta class, which has over 10,000 species. These worms are often referred to as bristle worms. They have small fleshy appendages called parapodia that are covered with small bristles (called chaetea), which is where they get their nickname.
There are currently only two known species of flota worms – Flota vitjasi and Flota flabelligera – though scientists believe more will soon be identified. Flota worms generally measure about one inch in length and less than a quarter of an inch wide. They have a retractable head, which can be tucked down into a sheath in their necks, or stick out when they are eating. Flota worms are most often found near the ocean floor. They use their parapodia to gather food and to swim. They are not very fast swimmers and have been described as “swimming vienna sausages.”
In the darker depths of the ocean, flota worms emit a bright blue glow from the tops of their parapodia. While scientists do not yet know what causes this, it is possible they use their glow to ward off predators, similar to many other deep-sea creatures.