“Christmas Tree Worm” Named for their spindly fir tree like appearance

The Christmas tree worm gets its name due to its Christmas tree shaped crowns and not because they exist on Christmas trees.

In fact, the Christmas tree worm is a marine creature that is found in the seas and oceans of the world.

These colorful marine worms are peculiar in that they primarily live their entire lives in their tube structures.

The Christmas tree worm is a fairly commonly found marine species and therefore not much data is available regarding its global population.

Christmas tree worms protect themselves by limiting their movement to merely within the tubes that they build and are quite popular amongst diving enthusiasts due to their aesthetic.

Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) are a group of bristle worms that are biologically categorized under the Serpulidae family.

The Christmas tree worm belongs to the class Polychaeta; that is, a class of segmented worms that are mostly marine animals.

The body of Christmas tree worms exhibits protrusions and bristles made of chitin called chaetae.

The Christmas tree worm is predominantly found to live in tropical ocean waters, from the waters of the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean.

When facing any danger, this species hides inside a calcium carbonate tube, which it erected as a bunker.

There is some research that establishes the existence of a symbiotic or mutually helpful relationship between corals and the Christmas tree worm.

Some Christmas tree worms have also been found to be living off some species of clams that act as the host for this species.

The average lifespan of organisms belonging to the Spirobranchus giganteus species ranges between 10 to 20 years.

However, Christmas tree worms (Phylum annelida) live for around 40 years, depending on the condition of the reef and water bodies in which these polychaetes dwell.

The members belonging to the Christmas tree worm species feed on organic detritus, phytoplankton, and zooplankton found in their immediate surroundings.

The colorful tentacles are used for passive feeding, known predators for these invertebrates are crabs and shrimps.

Christmas tree worms pose no threats to human.

Male and female Christmas tree worms release large numbers of male and female gametes in their habitats to increase the chances of fertilization.

Following the fusion, the larvae of Spirobranchus giganteus develop within a time span of 24 hrs.

Tree worms play a vital role in the smooth functioning of the ecosystem by protecting the corals from the much invasive starfishes and can save coral reefs by keeping the growth of algae at bay.

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The Christmas tree worm has been known to establish a home in coral reefs due to the availability of inaccessible spaces and gaps for over 40 years, pretty much their entire lives.

Moreover, the Christmas tree worm is what’s known as a sedentary species of worm.

This means that any plankton and microorganisms that venture into the coral reef can be snatched up by the Christmas tree worm as food.

There is not much research targeted toward the mutually beneficial relationship between Christmas tree worms and coral reefs

but some of the latest research points to the likely conclusion that Christmas tree worms can actually be a negative factor for the world’s coral reefs.

The subject, however, remains to be explored a lot more in order for a concrete conclusion to be established

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Ref : kidadl, kapook, greelane, nextsteptv, wikipedia Picture : kapook, greelane, nextsteptv, wikipedia, Pinterest

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