Christmas Tree Worms

This beautiful, brightly colored marine animal attached to a coral in Anilao, Batangas is actually a polychaete, known informally as the Christmas Tree worm. The visible spiral structures (they always come in pairs) are called "radioles," which function as a breathing and feeding appendage. The worm would retract the radioles back to its tube when a predator (or a hapless scuba diver) comes too close. 

These worms are found throughout the tropics. Its scientific name is Spirobranchia giganteus [1], which means "gigantic spiral gills." The English translation sounds actually cooler than the Latin designation, IMO.


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