Colberti the Sea Worm?

The Comedy Central host's brush with sea-worm fame

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Jun 8, 2011  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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Why We Love San Diego Gallery I

Getty/Birch Aquarium

Stephen Colbert is the one on the left.

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Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert came close to sharing his name with a deep-sea worm. 

When the opportunity surfaced to name a newly discovered deep-sea worm, a local fan decided Colbert was worthy of the honor.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. 

A San Diego teenager and a group of first graders from La Jolla won the chance to name the recently discovered worms living on whale carcasses on the ocean floor.

After Birch Aquarium at Scripps launched the contest, they received more than 165 suggestions. Staffers received submissions from 22 states, Greece and even Taiwan. 

Among the submissions:

  • Vrijenhoekia ahabi (a reference to Herman Melville's Captain Ahab)
  • Vrijenhoekia hispidafigulus (Translation: “Hairy” Potter)
  • Vrijenhoekia colberti (After comedian Stephen Colbert)

In the end, the aquarium's online voters chose the names “ketea” and “falenothiras.”

Laura McIntyre, 19, of San Diego submitted “ketea” which is Latin for “sea monster.” The word will be used to identify the worm belonging to the genus Vrijenhoekia.

The first-graders at The Children’s School in La Jolla submitted the name falenothiras, which is Greek  for “whale hunter.” The name will identify the second worm belonging to the genus Podarkeopsis.

The chosen names were revealed Wednesday, World Oceans Day, during a special kelp tank dive show at the aquarium.

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, Calif.

Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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