Serpula vermicularis

Serpula vermicularis is distributed over a very wide region, including both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the European coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Mediterranean Sea. We can find this species up to about 100 meters deep, always on hard substrates such as rocks, bivalves shells, artificial structures.

It lives in a tube of calcareous nature that is fixed to the rocky substrate. Very often, the tube is not completely straight, but is bent, and this can reach up to 20 cm in length, although it is more common to find smaller specimens. In any case, the size of the specimen is much smaller than the length of the tube, being the maximum size of the body of the specimen about 7 cm long. The most anterior part of the specimen, protrudes from the calcareous tube, and takes the form of a feather with about 40 feathery rays generally red, orange or pink, with transverse bands of white. Inside the tube, the entire body of the specimen will retract completely when it feels under the slightest danger, covering the entrance of the tube with a funnel-shaped calcareous operculum. The part of the animal that always remains inside the tube is curiously of a beautiful yellow color, presenting up to 190 abdominal segments.

As would be expected from the feathery structure protruding from the calcareous tube, the feeding of Serpula vermicularis consists of filtering the water column from which they capture both phytoplankton and organic materials. The duster not only acts by allowing the capture of food, but also fulfills the function of gas exchange.

It is a species whose growth is relatively fast (1 cm every month), in which the larvae are part of the plankton for almost two months, after which they settle on the substrate to form adult specimens.


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