It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even underwater! There are a wide range of marine critters that have names related to the festive season. Snowflake eels, tinselfish, pinecone fish, jingle shell, candy cane gobie, angel shark, peppermint angelfish…..I could go on and on! My favourite by far is a small worm, an unusual choice you might think but just take a look at them.
These are Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus Gianteius), so called because they have two spiral structures which look like Christmas Trees. These beautiful spiral structures are in fact used by the worm for feeding and respiration. Each structure is a spiral shape and is covered in small filaments, giving them the appearance of branches and needles. The tentacles move any food down the spiral into the mouth. Not the best place to hang baubles and tinsel.
Due to their bright colours (orange, yellow, white, blue) and their unusual shape they are some of the most widely recognised worms on a coral reef. Once they find a spot to bury into they will stay in the same spot all their lives. Despite this they are some of the fastest worms on the reef. If a shadow passes over the tree top the two trees shoot back into the safety of the burrow, blink and you’ll miss it! Not great for hiding Christmas presents underneath…
For all other Christmas tree related activities we recommend an actual tree! Palm, pine or driftwood, all are perfect for celebrating around. Merry Christmas from us and the worms.
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