Annelid | The Salt Marsh

Several different annelids are associated with the oyster reef, but the spaghetti worm is one of the largest and most spectacular. The spaghetti worm lives in a burrow of mud that it builds among the bases of the oysters. When the tide is in, the spaghetti worm comes up to the top of its burrow and extends its head. On it are hundreds of thin white tentacles that look like a pile of cooked, angel-hair spaghetti. This mass of tentacles writhes around as the worm searches for food. When the tentacle detects tiny bits of detritus in the mud, it picks them up and moves them along the tentacle to the mouth. The spaghetti worm also has a spectacular mass of blood-red, feathery gills that collect oxygen from the water. The black mud has very little oxygen and the gills must supply this essential gas to the large pink body buried in the mud.


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SC LIFE / The Salt Marsh / 10. Oyster Reef