Creature Feature: 12/17/2013 Revealed

Many people’s favorite part of the holiday season are the brightly colored decorations that go up everywhere. The Christmas tree worm, Spirobranchus giganteus, also comes in a variety of festive colors. This worm is one of the most recognizable marine polycheates because of their shape. Yep, they look like little Christmas trees under water!

These worms live in warm, tropical waters. They build themselves a calcium-based tube to live in, which is then attached to a coral reef. Most of their body remains hidden in the tube, but their two feathery plumes stick out into the water. These spiral-shaped radioles serve two functions – they trap food, and they are also the worm’s gills. These worms are suspension feeders, which means they feed on drifting particles and plankton in the water. When threatened or disturbed they retract into their tube.

So next time you look around and see all the decorations and lights remember the Christmas Tree Worm!

References:

http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=543

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/xmas-tree.html

Advertisements

One Response to “Creature Feature: 12/17/2013 Revealed”

  1. Watch out for Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) | The Balsamean Says:

    […] Creature Feature: 12/17/2013 Revealed (sfmsi.wordpress.com) – Great article from the Marine Science Institute Blog with a great picture of a sparkly red and white xmas tree worm,  and a video of xmas tree worms retracting into their coral burrows. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: