At the top of Mount Rainier in Washington, there's an extremely impressive view of the other white-capped summits in the Cascade Range. But Scott Hotaling is taking a look down in the direction of his feet, examining the ground covered in snow.
Glacier Ice Worms
Gesturing across Paradise Glacier, Scott Hotaling said: "It's happening." Little black flecks unexpectedly showed up on the formerly blank expanse of white. The surface of the glacier immediately changes as more and more little black creatures emerge. The ice worms are back, wiggling in between ice crystals and sparkling in the sun.
These thread-like creatures, each only around one inch long, wiggle up in a group late in the afternoon during summer, to do things scientists are not aware of. It's just one of a lot of mysteries that has to do with these worms, which have hardly been studied, despite the fact that they're the most profuse critter inhabiting the top on the snow and ice.
A researcher at Washington State University, Hotaling, said: "There are so many."
About 5 billion ice worms can inhabit a single glacier. He said from the place were he was standing he could sight, five, six, 10 glaciers, "And if every one hosts that density of ice worms? That is just a great amount of biomass in a location that is normally biomass-poor."
He says, biologists have disregarded high-altitude glaciers like these as fundamentally sterile and lifeless locations for a long time. These ice worms, however, reveal that this flimsy environment - where the glaciers are susceptible to climate change and are backtracking - is possibly very much complicated.
Hotaling says, if you have the thoughts of putting a biological luck piece on glaciers of the Northwest, "it's an ice worm."
And yet, with the feasible exclusion of the annual Cordova Iceworm Festival in Alaska, these strange worms have usually been either disregarded or treated as bare inquisitiveness.
Abundance of Glacier Ice Worms
Hotaling says, the National Park Service's visitors center close to Paradise Glacier, for instance, has a better exhibition on alpine wildlife, and there is in one way or the other nothing concerning ice worms. And for him, it is an origin of frustration.
He acknowledges that there is a possibility that it bothers no one else that visits the place.
And most individuals who ski, hike, or work on these mountains never came across an ice worm in spite of their abundance, maybe this is because the beasts only emerge to the surface at a particular time of the year, at certain times of the day.
Hotaling said these creatures are very detectable once you notice them, but it's more than what people expect, and when you're found in a glacier environment, that worm will be present. No one is aware of how these worms thrive in the harsh winters, or to what extent they drill down into the snow.
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