Thursday, September 8, 2016

Feather Duster Worms

Hello Aqua Action blog followers.

Amy has moved on to new adventures and I, Duane Hausch, will be filling her fins.
I will attempt to provide you with relevant and interesting information just as she did.
Like this...

Feather Duster Worms
Photo compliments of Albert Kok from Wikipedia

Many new divers marvel at this flower that magically disappears when I snap my fingers. Eventually, as they gain more experience they realize that these are so common that they lose interest in them.

Waning interest in seeing them aside this is actually a very interesting animal and not a flower. Recently one of our regular divers asked me how they reproduce. So here is your answer John.

Feather Duster Worms 101:

Feather Dusters are actually worms. For you taxonomists they are polychaetes and the one pictured is Sabellidae.

Polychaete basically means multiple bristles. Each worm has 8 thoracic sections each having chaetae or bristles along the bottom or venteral side. As they have no legs, these bristles help them move in and out of their home which is a calcium carbonate based tube The head has two fan shaped clusters called radioles that are used for filtering food out the water. These are the feathers.

 Hold onto your hat movie goers. Polychaetes have been around since the Early Jurassic period. As long as there have been living organisms there have been dying ones. While much of their food supply is filtered out of the water they are detrivores. This means that they help sweep up dead and decaying matter to keep the reef clean.

Another key to the survival of these worms is their ability to reproduce. Polychates reproduce both sexually and asexually. Much like coral each animal can produce both male and female gametes (eggs and sperm) in the water column during broadcast spawning. When a male and female gamete collide by happenstance fertilization occurs and our new little wormie floats around planktonicly until it becomes large enough to settle to the bottom and start it’s own little tube.

When you see clusters or colonies of them, you are seeing clones. In asexual reproduction the last thoracic segment of the worm falls off and generates a new worm while the head grows a new tail.

 So the next time you see Feather Duster or Christmas Tree Worms don’t wave your magic hand and make them disappear. Instead look a little closer like I have. Maybe you too will realize their markings are as individual as snowflakes.

Email me at to let me know what you would like to see me write about next.

Until then make your total number of ascents equal your total number of descents.

Your Really Cool Blogger,


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