Fun with fanworms

Sea life: Fanworms

Fanworms are hard to photograph. They live in little tubes, either little leathery ones that they bury in the sand, or in ones made from sand, bits of shell, and a gummy mucous excreted to hold the tube together. Fanworms are sessile, which means they don’t move around.

Fanworms at Long Beach
Fanworms at Long Beach

They protrude their magnificent feather-duster cascading tentacles called lophophores into the water column to collect food. Each “tentacle” is called a radiole, and is covered with tiny hairs that filter the water for nutrients. The fanworm’s mouth is located in the centre of the crown of tentacles.

Fanworms
Fanworms

The small ones are shy, and can feel you moving the water near them, so they don’t usually stick around for a picture. The larger ones tend to wave about, making them equally hard to photograph. But they are oh so pretty!

Fun with fanworms
Fun with fanworms

Here’s a big white fanworm on one of the wrecks at Long Beach, in the process of unfolding its tentacles.

Step one
Step one
Step two
Step two
Step three
Step three
Step four
Step four
Step five
Step five
Step six - almost done
Step six - almost done (and then I swam away)

Published by

Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

Leave a Reply