Image: Serpula uschakovi Kupriyanova, 1999

Serpula uschakovi Kupriyanova, 1999

Family Serpulidae: Serpula uschakovi Kupriyanova, 1999. (Specimen photographed underwater in the Sea of Japan).

Alexander Semenov
© Alexander Semenov


This flower-like animal is a ‘tube worm’ living in a calcareous, chalky tube firmly attached to the substrate and can reach lengths of 120 mm. This worm uses its colourful branchial crown for both for respiration and feeding. The crown is used to catch tiny food particles, usually algae suspended in the water column, a method of provisioning known as suspension-feeding. One of the branchial filaments is modified into a plug that tightly shuts the tube entrance whenever the worm retracts into it, when alarmed by a passing shadow. If the animal is too slow, its branchial crown can be bitten off, but all is not lost, as it can grow back rapidly.

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