A Twist of Serpula Tubes

Larval calcareous tubeworms start out life in the plankton- it’s a badge of honor among tide pool inhabitants. Once they settle, young worms secrete calcareous tubes within which they reside for the rest of their lives. Below, six or seven red trumpets, Serpula columbiana, have laid down loose coils around a giant barnacle shell, Balanus nubilus. I’ve seen the coils described as irregular, rambling, sinuous, and meandering. Twisted is a stretch, but not much.


Like tubeworms anywhere, these withdrew into their tubes with the fall of the tide. Even though a couple of slowpokes in this small group are still showing a hint of their orange tentacular crowns, you don’t get the full trumpet effect. It’s best to see the extended tentacles. This short video solves the problem.

Preparing this post, I noticed another worm among the twist of tubes. Have you seen it? It’s dead center in the image. It’s in an L-shaped posture with the head at the right tip of the horizontal arm of the L. A scaleworm perhaps? If you know what it is, please drop me a line.



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