Marine Life‎ > ‎California‎ > ‎Invertebrates‎ > ‎

Tube Worms

California Phoronid

Phoronopsis californica

(1-2: Howland's Landing, Santa Catalina Island)

Christmas Tree Worm

Spirobranchus spinosus

(1,3: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 2: Ship Rock, Santa Catalina Island / 4: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos)

Christmas Tree Worm

Spirobranchus sp.

(1-2,5: Monastery Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea / 3: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 4: Arch Point, Santa Barbara Island)

Saw several of these at 70-90 fsw.  They are much bigger than Spirobranchus spinosus; compare to the size of the brittle star in the first picture.

Colonial Tube Worm

Dodecaceria fewkesi

(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 2-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Coralline Fringed Tube Worm

Dodecaceria concharum

(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 2-3: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos)

Feather Duster Worm

Eudistylia polymorpha

(1: East Pescadero Pinnacle, Pebble Beach / 2,8: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3-4,6-7: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 5: Bluefish Cove, Point Lobos)

These will pull back into their tubes with amazing speed if you accidentally brush against them; see the first picture.  Uniform color varies from tan to orange.

Fragile Tube Worm

Salmacina tribranchiata

(1-2,4: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 3: Sutil Island, Santa Barbara Island / 5-7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 8: Lovers Point, Monterey)

These are pretty tiny; compare to the purple sandcastle worms next to them, or the tips of the club-tipped anemone in the 5th picture.

Jointed Three-Section Tubeworm

Spiochaetopterus costarum

(1-2: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 3: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos)

Northern Feather Duster Worm

Eudistylia vancouveri

(1,5-6: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 2,8: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 3-4,7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Tentacles are striped maroon, compared with all tan or orange for the feather duster worm.

Like most frilly tube worms, these will pull back into their tubes when disturbed:
(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Sabellid Worm

Chone mollis

(1-2: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos)

Sabellid Worm

Megalomma pigmentum

(1-5,7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 6,8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

These are obnoxiously sensitive to changes in light.  If you use a focus light with your camera, they'll vanish into their stalk before you can take a picture.  Unlike Serpula vermicularis, these don't have a funnel.

Sandcastle Worm

Phragmatopoma californica

(1-7: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 8: Lovers Point, Monterey)

Serpulid Worm

Serpula vermicularis

(1-2,5: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 6: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3-4,7-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

These have a funnel, unlike feather duster worms.  The frilly part is just the head of the worm; the rest of it is considerably longer:

(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 2-3: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 4: Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea)

Slime Fan Worm

Myxicola infundibulum

(1-2,4-5: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3,8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 6: Lovers Point, Monterey / 7: Monastery Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea)

These also pull back into their holes when threatened.

Spirorbis Worm

Spirorbis (sp?)

(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

These are tiny, only a couple mm across.

Terebellid Worm

(aka spaghetti worm)

Thelepus crispus

(1,4-6: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 2-3,7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 8: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos)

This worm builds a tube of sand and shell bits.  Sometimes only its long, translucent feeding tentacles are visible.

Tube Worm

Bispira (sp?)

(1: Lovers Point, Monterey)

Vancouver Phoronid

Phoronis ijimai

(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

These are the small white horseshoe worms; the orange thing is an Olive's Aeolid nudibranch.

Windmill Worm

Praxillura maculata

(1-2: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

The windmill worm spreads out strands of mucus attached to its arms, waits for food to get trapped in the mucus, then eats the mucus.  So, it's an animal which more or less survives by eating its own boogers.