Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spaghetti and cucumber, with ribbons. Under rocks.

What's purple and white and has an orange head? A worm, of course!

Purple ribbon worm, Micrura verrilli. The belly is all white.

Under rocks near the bottom of the intertidal zone, wherever the rock rests on mud or sand, there are worms. Many of them are these purple predators, hunting for other species of worms, which they catch like a frog catching flies, with a sticky proboscis. (Or a tongue, if it's a frog.)

The orange blob next to the worm is a sea cucumber, possibly a juvenile burrowing sea cucumber, Leptosynapta clarki. The dark lump at its head end is the mouth, with all its feeding tentacles retracted. These are detritus feeders, and grow up to about 6 inches long. This one was about 2 inches.

Another sea cucumber, under the next rock, and with a purple ribbon worm next to it. The worm is no danger to the cucumber, I think; it's 'way too big to swallow.

Spaghetti worm, with purple ribbon worm. And more worms; at the lower right, a polychaete lies in the mud; towards the centre right, there's a scale worm; below the spaghetti worm, there's a calcareous tubeworm. And in the clam shell, some sort of orange worm is encased in his sandy tube.

Next: the latest fashion in crab wear.

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