Spirobranchus Giganteus or the Christmas Tree Worm

These strange, yet marvellous creatures certainly top the bill when it comes to the best looking worms, this coral dwelling worm is certainly one of natures great sea life creatures.

Christmas tree worm pictures
Spirobranchus Giganteus find their home within corals around the world and once they are in, they never leave

Spirobranchus giganteus also known as Christmas tree worms are certainly the prettiest worms in the world. The worms get their name from the two tree-like plumes which are the worms appendages. They are a type of marine worm which live on different coral reefs around the world.

The Christmas tree worms come in a huge variety of different colours however the colourful plumes are the only part of the worms that can be seen as they burrow the rest of their bodies into the corals that they inhabit. The worms are sedentary, which means once they find a place on the corals where they are going to live, they will not move for the rest of their lives.

pictures of Christmas tree worms
Christmas tree worms get their name from the pretty plumes that protrude from the coral

On average they grow to around 1.5 inches in length and with two-thirds of the body

burrowed into the coral these creatures are tiny with only 0.5 inches visible. The worms use their tree-like plumes to catch any small plants and animals out of the water flowing past so that they have something to eat.

The worms main predators are animals like crabs and shrimp. To protect from these predators they respond very quickly (in milliseconds) to shadows, light changes, touch and various other factors. When they react to this they retract into their tubes until they feel that the danger has passed.

These worms can live to be up to 40 years old even though the average lifespan for other organisms of its species are only between 10-20 years making these worms one of the longest living type of its species.

pictures of a Christmas tree worm
Christmas tree worms create a seabed of colour and texture when they are grouped close together

The worms breed by casting sperm and eggs into the water at the same time. Then as the eggs develop into larvae they find their home on the coral where they will spend the rest of their lives. Even though most of the larvae do find their home in the coral. It has been known that some of the worms end up accidentally making their home on clamshells.

You can never get tired of looking at some of the magnificent creatures that inhabit our oceans. For more stories like this make sure to follow us on Facebook!


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