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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Christmas Tree Worm Spirobranchus giganteus

Many large coral heads in tropical waters are decorated with Christmas tree worms, which occur in a huge variety of colors. The worm lives in a calcareous tube buried in the coral and extends neat, twin spirals of feeding tentacles above the coral surface. If disturbed, the worm pulls back into its tube in a fraction of a second. For added safety, the Christmas tree worm can also plug its tube with a small plate called an operculum.

Christmas Tree Wormzoom image
Christmas Tree Wormzoom image
Christmas Tree Wormzoom image
Christmas Tree Wormzoom image
  • Class Polychaeta
  • Length Up to 1 in (3 cm)
  • Depth 0–100 ft (0–30 m) or more
  • Habitat Living coral heads
  • Distribution Shallow reef waters throughout the tropics
Christmas Tree Worm habitat mapzoom image