Christmas Tree Worm
It’s that time of year again when all divers and dive blogs write about Christmas tree worms. The Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) belongs to the family Serpulidae and can be commonly be found living embedded in the skeleton of Porites corals. The crown of a Christmas tree worm is easily recognizable by its spiraled Christmas tree shape and vibrant coloration, from blue, orange, yellow, red and white.
Christmas tree worm uses its feathery tentacles as gills for breathing and to trap food particles. The worm traps varying sizes of particles in the feeding crown and will feed off of the smaller particles of plankton, detritus and microscopic organisms.
Christmas tree worms are very sensitive to disturbances in the water and will rapidly retract into their tubes if they sense movement or shadows. Christmas tree worms have a specialized cover called an operculum which blocks the entrance of their tubes when they withdraw. The worms will typically re-emerge a minute later, very slowly, to test the water before fully extending their plumes.
Christmas tree worms are commonly found in tropical coral reefs around the world.