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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sea Things #6: Christmas Tree Worms

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) are really, really cool.  They are worms that live on coral heads.  What they do is stick their little plumes, called radioles, out of the coral head and use it to collect food and plankton.  If you are diving and swim up on them, they'll quickly draw their radioles back into their tubes.  If you wait patiently, they will slowly put them back out again, looking like the above photo.  This process can be loads of fun.

We've seen them everywhere, but they are most prolific (of the places we've been anyway) in Bonaire.  At some dive sites in Bonaire, they are just all over the place.  They come in many different colors, and are maybe 1-3 inches tall (outside the coral head).  That I know of, there isn't a hand signal for them.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it.

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