Discover the Underwater Beauty of Christmas Tree Worms as they Usher in the Holiday Season!

manatee-news-12-22-2016Unique and Colorful underwater Christmas Tree Worms usher in the Holidays! These worms are not very big. In fact, they only average 1.5 inches in length. But they sure know how to throw out magnificent, awesome color! Celebrate their natural beauty. Photo courtesy Nick Hobgood

Greetings and Happy Holidays to you! Ok – now I think you’ll find this blog rather interesting, especially since you and I are in the heart of the Holiday Season. Check this out…

…Did you know that there is actually a living organism in the tropical ocean called a Christmas Tree Worm? Well – there is! The Christmas Tree Worm was actually first discovered by scientists in 1766. Its awesome tree top crown comes in a variety of colors, however its crowns are always paired. And even more interesting, you can only see the worm’s crowns, which are visible in the unique and beautiful shape of the Christmas tree! Hence its name.

The Christmas Tree Worm’s body is well hidden within the host coral where it lives. The Christmas tree shaped crowns are actually the worm’s gills! You can usually find several Christmas Tree Worms living in the same area. That’s right – they’re basically sedentary, much like the celebrated Christmas tree once it is put in place and decorated! The Christmas Tree Worm doesn’t like to move around that much, and it also prefers staying in the shaded area of any rocky seascapes, out of the sun’s bright rays angling down into the water.

Each worm has two bright colored crowns that extend up from its tube-shaped body. These two Christmas tree crowns are actually made of radioles (hair-like appendages growing from the worm’s central spine). The Christmas Tree Worm uses these appendages to catch its food, which mainly consists of microscopic plants, or phytoplankton, which floats about in the water.

manatee-news-12-23-2016The Christmas tree shape of the worm is actually its gills. When the Christmas Tree Worm senses danger is near, it quickly pulls in its gills and hides in its tube secured within its host coral. Photo Courtesy (NOAA)

If something nearby startles the Christmas Tree Worm, it will quickly disappear into its coral burrow, hiding from any approaching predator. According to a recent study, Christmas Tree Worms “may live for a decade or more (some for more than 40 years), based on counting the annual growth bands in the coral skeleton overlaying polychaete tubes.”

If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.

Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …

Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …

~ Kobee Manatee