Biodiversity #16 – Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus). The bit you see is almost just like a crown which the worm extends out of its hole. It’s a pretty useful crown (despite not having a gecko on it), as it is used both to collect food – passed down its spiral structure, and to breathe – they are a form of gills! The worm itself sits inside a tube which it bores itself into a head of coral. The shot below is from a brain coral in the Solomon Islands literally ‘riddled’ with worms – not sure why I couldn’t find an Australian – despite the season.
The sex life of the Christmas Tree Worm is believed to be amazing, as there are so many of them everywhere. Further, despite their name, they are completely secular, and the good news is, that as man has not yet found a way to exploit the Christmas Tree Worm, unlike most other aquatic species, it has an environmental status of ‘Least concern’. Hoorah for the worm!