Pretty Polychaetes!

Paris has already written about cutest sea creatures now I want to showcase the beauty of polychaete worms…

For those of you unfamiliar with polychaete worms (bristle worms), they are segmented worms generally found in marine environments from shallow coastal waters to deep-sea abyssal plains.  On each body segment of a polychaete worm there is a pair of fleshy protrusions called parapodia, these bare many bristles called chaetae. Polychaetes range in size from 1 mm to 3 m long! Here are my top three pretty polychaetes:

1) Spirobranchus giganteus also known as the Christmas tree worm. This worm has a tubular segmented body, the two “crowns” shaped like Christmas trees are specialized mouth appendages that it uses to trap prey.

2) Eupolymnia cf. korrangia.  From the family Terebellidae, these are surface deposit feeders, catching falling particles with numerous elongate tentacles splayed out on the sea floor. The tentacles give them their common name of spaghetti worms.

Polychaete Eupolymnia cf. korrangia

3) Riftia pachyptila are found living next to hydrothermal vents (underwater chimneys). These worms can reach up to 2.4 m long. They depend on bacteria living inside them to supply food. The bacteria convert chemicals from the hydrothermal vents into organic molecules. 

These are just a few of many, many pretty polychaetes

Image credits:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spirobrancheus_giganteus.jpg

http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Polychaete-Eupolymnia-cf-korrangia/

http://invertebrates.si.edu/Features/stories/vestimentifera.html

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