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Spaghetti Worm

Terebellidae g. sp.


Terebellidae is a family of polychaete worms. They are surface deposit feeders, catching falling particles with numerous elongate prostomial tentacles splayed out on the sea floor. These tentacles, which are the most or only normally visible portion of the animal and are reminiscent of spaghetti, inspired the common name spaghetti worms. The remainder of the animal is in a semi-permanent burrow or permanent tube in soft substrates. Most terebellids live in burrows or crevices and are often of large size, ranging up to 150 millimetres in length and 15 millimetres in width. The numerous, very long tentacles which radiate from near the mouth are used for finding and collecting food particles from the sediment surface. The tentacles are not retractable as is the case in the ampharetids. They have plump anterior bodies and numerous segments in their long, tapered posterior bodies, whereas ampharetids are more compact. They have branched gills laterally on up to three anterior chaetigers but in the subfamily Thelepodinae the gills are numerous simple filaments. The mid-body chaetigers are in double rows in the subfamily Amphitritinae. In the subfamily Polycirrinae, the gills are absent and the prostomium is expanded as an undulating membrane which bears the tentacles.[1]


This creature was found in/encrusted to a whelk shell that was collected during a sampling of sea grass beds off of Marathon Key. The photos were taken in a wet lab. Over the course of its stay in the wet lab, before we released it, it had managed to collect enough debris to create a new "tube home"

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28 Comments (1–25)

ulvalactuca77 9 years ago

Thanks Hema! Thanks for browsing my images! I should really upload more.

Hema  Shah
Hema Shah 9 years ago

I remember this one!! You have interesting stuff!!

ulvalactuca77 9 years ago

Thanks guys!

Superb !

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 9 years ago

Absolutely stunning spotting of a spectacular organism! Fantastic!!

Hema  Shah
Hema Shah 9 years ago


naross 9 years ago


ulvalactuca77 10 years ago

Thank you so much for the honor of being your first comment CourtneyLower, and what a great comment!

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 10 years ago

CourtneyLower, I'm looking forward to your photos. Coming soon to Project Noah?

CourtneyLower 10 years ago

I absolutely adore this critter. We found 3 of these in about the same location in 1990 and took them home with us. We were actually doing marine biomechanical research on the use of their tentacle and these guys' cute dots were wonderful to help gauge speed. We called them artacama or somethings like that. After doing a lot of research and deciding that we needed a proper taxonomic ID before publishing we sent one guy off to the polychaete taxonomist. Eventually we got the report from the taxonomist and it ended with something like ".... this species keys out to be blah blah blah, however I do not think it is." Welcome to the land of the unknown. Anyways, I would love to know the species name if the guy gets one.
Also FYI we packed our critters in salt water and supplemental oxygen and mailed them to Maine. The arrived before we did, but a lab tech when we returned said something like "Wow, it was amazing to see them swim". Huh? As she described it they reportedly had their tentacles curled in and somehow could synchronize them to swim around. Reportedly this lasted a couple hours and then they went to laying around and building tubes.
Anyways, this is my favorite species whatever it is. Thanks so much for the pics.

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

Thank you so much. :)

LarsKorb 11 years ago

Excellent presented series

LarryGraziano 11 years ago

Lovely series, foto, and information! Great spotting!

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

Thanks Ava. :)

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 11 years ago

This is beautiful!

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

I will now add more photos that I took.

aldrin 11 years ago

WOW!! : )

AnnalisaD 11 years ago

very interesting species!

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

I should add a description...

KarenL 11 years ago


EricEllison 11 years ago

thats wild

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

Oh, and the size of the worm is about 2" from gills to tail so macro was not necessary.

ulvalactuca77 11 years ago

This photo was taken in a wet lab after the class I was with went out on a boat trip to collect some critters to identify. This worm is a flow through aquarium.

moralcoral 11 years ago

teenie tiny though is this a macro?

moralcoral 11 years ago

Wow we have this in my aquarium!!

Spotted by

Layton, Florida, USA

Spotted on Jan 6, 2005
Submitted on Nov 18, 2011

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