Image: Phyllodoce citrina Malmgren, 1865
Family Phyllodocidae: Phyllodoce citrina Malmgren, 1865. (Specimen from the White Sea, photographed alive in the laboratory)
- Alexander Semenov
- © Alexander Semenov
This animal moves actively over the substrate in a snake-like motion using its bristles and characteristic leaf-like appendages (or “cirri”) as paddles and can reach lengths of 10-12 cm. Phyllodocids are carnivorous predators that often hunt on a rising tide by following mucous trails left by a potential prey species. They use their long eversible pharynx to catch unsuspecting prey. The eversion of this pharynx is like pulling out an inside out sock very quickly. Males and females spawn synchronously forming breeding swarms of adults. Females attach bright emerald green mucous capsules containing eggs to stones and algae, into which males have to penetrate to fertilise the eggs. After 3-4 days the capsule breaks down, and microscopic larvae are released and swim into the water column, before settling on the bottom after a few days.