Who Says Christmas Trees Can’t Grow Underwater?

If I told you the image above is drone footage looking down at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in New York City, you just might believe me. Well, it isn’t! Christmas Tree worms are brilliantly colored living organisms, which are living underwater. Their bodies are in the shape of Christmas trees. The tree shape of the worm actually comes from 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.

A warm greetings to you! And Happy Holidays! I want to add to the celebrations happening around this time of year. And I can’t think of a better way to talk about some very interesting and uplifting news – Christmas trees! Well, you see them all over with their sparkling lights dancing across neighborhoods and cities.  

Now this is pretty cool …

… Did you know there is a living organism in our oceans called a Christmas Tree Worm? Well – you read it right! There sure is! Scientists first discovered the Christmas Tree Worm and its beauty in 1766. The awesome looking tree top crown also comes in a variety of fantastic colors. Just about any color you can think of.  And even more interesting, you can only see the worm’s crown, which happens to be visible in the beautiful shape of a Christmas tree! Christmas Tree worms are not very big at all. In fact, they only average about 1.5 inches in length. But I’m sure you’ll agree, they sure know how to throw out some truly magnificent colors!

The Christmas Tree Worm’s body is hidden within the host coral where it lives.  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 up and decorated! Interestingly, the Christmas Tree Worm doesn’t like to move around much, and it prefers to stay in the shaded area of any rocky seascape, out of the sun’s bright rays angling down into the water.

Each worm has two bright colored crowns, which extend up from its tube-shaped body. And their 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. 

If something swimming nearby startles a Christmas Tree Worm, it quickly disappears 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.”

And researchers discovered the Christmas tree worm might actually protect certain types of corals from bleaching. Now – that is pretty cool!


If you are in Florida and you see a sick or injured manatee, 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 manatees …


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


~ Robert Scott Thayer