Christmas tree worm

Christmas tree worm
Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta (segmented worms)
Spirobranchus giganteus
0 to 100+ ft
Christmas tree worms, also know as tubeworms, build their homes by drilling into hard corals. The only portion of the animal that is visible is the extended, spiral gill structure that has a conical shape resembling a Christmas tree. Sensitive to water movement and shadows, they are easily "spooked" and will rapidly retract their gills into the tube for protection when approached. At this time, a hard "foot" covers the opening of the tube providing further protection for the worm. The extended gills are commonly red in color, though other colors may be seen. Abundant throughout the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands, these worms inhabit coral reefs at a variety of depths.

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