SCUBA News 234
21 December 2019
SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011)
Issue 234 - December 2019
Welcome to SCUBA News. Our complements of the season to you.
You can download a pdf version of the newsletter here.
On the humpback whales migratory path, Madagascar has sea creatures not found anywhere else and one of the world's longest continuous coral reefs.
The best diving areas? The Musandam peninsula, Daymaniyat Islands and Fahl Island.
Featured Liveaboards - 10% off Red Sea
10% off Red Sea Liveaboard for 2020 Trips
Book now to visit the fabulous south of Egypt on the Longimanus liveaboard and save 10% with early bird discount.
Colourful Christmas tree worms are captivating during any dive, adding a touch of festive magic to coral reefs around the world.
What are Christmas tree worms?
They might look like colourful Christmas trees but they're actually segmented worms. Most of their structure is hidden in tubes within the coral, with only their crowns or Christmas trees protruding. These creatures can live for 40 years!
Their scientific name is Spirobranchus giganteus, meaning Giant Spiral-Gills. Although the visible part is only 1.5 cm long, together with its hidden part it is in fact one of the largest worms in its family. The branching crown is important for respiration, hence the "spiral-gills" name.
Each worm has two crowns or Christmas Trees. The worms come in a myriad of colours, but an individual's two crowns are always the same colour. As well as being used in respiration, the the feathery Christmas Tree gathers food, wafting it down to the worm's mouth.
On sensing danger, the worm quickly retracts its crown into its tube in the coral and closes the entrance with a trapdoor called an operculum. It will stay down there for about a minute, before re-emerging very slowly to check that the danger has gone.
There are both male and female Christmas tree worms and they are choosy; spending their entire life on the same coral - often massive porites. They are important for the health of coral reefs and help protect corals from aggressive sea stars, whilst also stopping algae growing over the coral.
Where do they live?
The great thing about Christmas tree worms is that you can see them around the world on most tropical reefs. They're easy to find and very photogenic, making them great subjects for macro photography. As long as you have the patience to wait and not disturb them into shooting back into their tubes. You might see them down to depths of 30 m.
Animalia (Kingdom) > Annelida (Phylum) > Polichaeta (Class) > Sedentaria (Subclass) > Sabellidae (Order) > Serpulidae (Family) > Spirobranchus (Genus)
The Wonderful World of Christmas Tree Worms
Coral Reef Guide Red Sea, Lieske and Myers
Red Sea Reef Guide, Helmut Debelius
Age-estimation of the Christmas Tree Worm Spirobranchus giganteus (Pomlychaeta, Serpulidae) Living Buried in the Coral Skeleton from the Coral-growth Band of the Host Coral. Eijiroh Nishi, Moritaka Nishihira 2016
Divers visiting Solomon Islands need proof of measles vaccination
Where to dive in January?
The Lionfish Takeover Could Get Worse
Living Museum of the Sea Established in Dominican Republic
Boom in seahorse poaching spells bust for Italy's coastal habitats
Orca grandmothers help improve survival odds of their grandkids, study finds
Sea turtles continue to swim in troubled waters: report
EU Fisheries Management Improves but Still Lags Behind Scientific Advice
2018 saw record breaking greenhouse gas concentrations
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Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Captain Victor Organ
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