Polydachta- worms

FEATHER WORMS look like red feather dusters but they are really segmented worms (Polychaetes) that build leathery tubes that they can withdraw into when threatened. The “feathers” are tentacles, which the worm uses to capture tiny particles of food floating in the water. Like some anemones, starfish, and other animals on the docks, feather worms are “suspension feeders” that eat floating plankton and detritus.  Lay still on the dock and soon colonies of worm plumes will appear, fanning the water in unison with the current. There are two kinds of feathery worms living in Friday Harbor – can you find them both?

Northern feather duster
Eudystilia vancouveri
Long thin parchment-like tubes to 8 inches
Fine, feathery red, pink and blue “plumes”
Plume arms long and thin with a tuft at the tips
Usually live together in small groups

Calcareous tubeworm
Serpula vermicularis
Hard opaque snake-like white tubes made of shell
Most of the tube is attached flat against the dock or float
Plumes are small, finely striped red and white
Scattered and usually solitary