Worms are probably not the best conversation starter when you are talking to someone about snorkeling, but once you see any one of a number of the different species of Tube Worm underwater, I think they will be (pun intended) hooked.
Tube worms are found all throughout the oceans of this world. They begin their life floating through the water until they find a suitable place to call their permanent home. Once they find it, they anchor themselves to it by their tail and begin the process of secreting the mineral substance used to build it’s protective tube shaped house. Once completed the external tube serve to protect the tube worm by allowing it a hiding place. They are found in all the oceans of the earth from the shallow reefs on which we snorkel to the very deepest and darkest depths.
What makes the tube worm the subject of this writing is that they are so beautiful. As the Feather Duster tube worm matures a crown of feeding appendages develop around it’s head that have a feather-like appearance. They feed on small food particulates and plankton in the water. In order to survive and thrive their habitat has to be in an area where there are currents. When fully opened the crown resembles an old fashioned feather duster which I am 99.9 percent sure that this is how they got their name. It waves it’s feather duster crown tentacles around in the water to catch and direct food toward it’s mouth.
The feather duster tube worm is one of the more common ones that may be spotted by a snorkeler on any given snorkeling adventure, they are truly fascinating to watch. Many snorkelers who spot them get so excited they want to share the experience with their snorkeling buddy. They quickly get their buddy’s attention and point…only to find that what they saw is no longer there.
Did it run away? Was it a trick of their imagination? It was in fact, neither of these. The tube worm employed it’s only defense which is to retract as far back into it’s tube as possible. This can be a reaction to a sudden and quick change in water movement or to anything that it perceives to be a threat. This retreat mode can happen in a blink of an eye and once the threat has passed the crown portion re-emerges again to it’s full glory. The re-emergence is usually a very slow and time consuming process but if you are patient though it is quite a fascinating spectacle. Since the tube worm is permanently anchored to it’s habitat there is no possibility of it running away.
The Feather Duster Tube worm is but one of the examples of the many types of tube worms out there. There are Christmas Tree Tube Worms which can be found in colors that are quite festive along with a host of magical types.