SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011)
Issue 269 - December 2022
Does the Malta diver verdict make scuba liability insurance more necessary?
Including the President Coolidge, one of the best wreck dives in the world, but also colourful steep drop-offs, tunnels and caves.
Great for wreck diving, Barbados is also home to the second-largest hawksbill turtle nesting population in the Caribbean.
Manta madness in the Maldives to sharks and whales in Mexico.
"Never missed - barracuda torpedo with jack fish torpedo..."
Tell us about your favourite dive site - email@example.com.
From the Red Sea to Raja Ampat, Maldives, Solomon Islands, Truk Lagoon and the Galapagos. All fabulous diving destinations.
Colourful Christmas tree worms are captivating during any dive, adding a touch of festive magic to coral reefs around the world.
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.
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
Northern Red Sea reefs resist bleaching
French fishing ban pleases both fishers and biodiversity activists
70% of Florida's coral reefs are eroding
Ireland's Underwater grand canyon gets protected status under marine conservation move
Tech companies work to make fishing more sustainable
Plastic 'nurdles' stop sea urchins developing properly, study finds
Transplants can save dying coral reefs, but genetically diverse donors are key
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Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Kristin Riser, Jianye Sui
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