Seth and I were looking for marine life at the Apollo Bay harbour when he called me over. He’d found this weird looking worm but wasn’t sure what it was. We didn’t bring a container with us so I took a couple of photos and put them online. We also planned to return later with a proper container.
I uploaded the photos to my favourite Facebook group that is connected to the Victorian field naturalist club. People were able to tell it was a terebellid worm – also known as a spaghetti worm – based on these initial bad photos.
This is why I love the marine research group. I never would have guessed that based on what we saw here.
We had previously observed ribbon worms at eastern beach. We’d learned that you often have to put species in water to get a proper look at the identifiable features.
This worked out so brilliantly. Apparently, the main way to tell the species apart is the tentacles or branchiae/gills. The main problem? The below species is apparently a different!! one to the above species.
We could definitely see the tentacles in the below images. I’m not sure what the gills are. I’m guessing that they are the things that look like trees in these images. I couldn’t easily see gills in the below images, but someone did comment saying that the above images appeared to have two pairs of orange branchiae. I can see two patches of orange in the photos of the specimen out of water.
I was told that many people would identify the below species as Eupolymnia koorangia – however the worm expert at a local museum wouldn’t.
According to Marine Invertebrates of South Australia – examples of rarely seen, endemic and potentially threatened species:
“A very widely distributed terebellid in Australia, known as Eupolymnia koorangia, may be a group of related species.”
The same booklet said that “there are over 100 named terebellids in Australia, plus various undescribed species.” 🙂 The person that was helping me did mention that the above species was unnamed.
I love nerding out on this. Maybe this a group of species I could focus on in the future? We’ll see.