Who are you calling a worm?!

by B. N. Sullivan

What the heck is that thing? A caterpillar? A centipede? Nope, it's a marine worm called a Bearded Fireworm (Hermodice carunculata). I wrote an article about this critter for Photo Synthesis, and it includes some ultra-close-up shots of this mean-looking creature. Be sure to go and have a look.

Hermodice carunculataLong-time readers of The Right Blue might recognize this creature. H. carunculata was the 'model' for an article I wrote back in 2007 about photographing critters on different backgrounds. The one pictured here, at right was, was photographed in the Aegean Sea, near Cape Sounion, Greece. [Click on the photo to enlarge, if you dare.]

Also posted on Photo Synthesis this past week was an article -- titled Gimme shelter! -- about creatures that live on or among sea anemones and corals for protection. The article is illustrated with some of my photos of clownfish, including the species that was the model for the cartoon movie character, Nemo.

Another Photo Synthesis article was about photographing feeding records of nudibranchs. Readers of The Right Blue already have seen quite a few of my nudibranch photos, I know, but go and have a look there if you'd like to see a few more.

Next was a photo essay featuring Gorgonian sea fans, including macro photos of several different types. Finally, I posted an article about Cerianthid tube anemones on Photo Synthesis, a topic I wrote about here on The Right Blue just about a year ago. Remember Cerianthid Tube Anemones - Flowers of the Deep?

This is my final week of writing for Photo Synthesis. Just a few more posts there, and I will be back to publishing my underwater photos exclusively here on The Right Blue. Stay tuned...


  1. It is certainly quite intricate. Some of the details do blend into the background, but the photograph captures the "motion" of the worm, so it stands out.

  2. I'm not a fan of creepy crawly things... and this buggah's an ocean dweller.

    Is it edible?

    You find the coolest and strangest pictures....

    Thanks for the eye candy!

  3. @ Catsynth - Yes, it is quite an intricate critter -- for a worm!

    @ Damon - I don't think you'd want to eat this 'buggah'. It would be like eating a centipede -- crunchy, I suppose, and not much meat. And by the way, they sting, too, so not a good idea to even pick one up.


  4. Not nearly as interesting when not threatened. Now what exactly are the gill filaments? Are they the white tufts coming out the the sides, or are they something else.

  5. Hi Scienceguy - The white tufts coming out of the sides are bundles of setae, hollow hair-like structures that contain a venom. They're very brittle, and they will break off and lodge (painfully) under your skin if you touch one.

    The gill filaments, used for respiration, are the brownish thingies that look like tiny trees, situated above each bundle of setae. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will be able to see them more clearly -- or look at the third photo in the Photo Synthesis post, where they are more magnified.


  6. Hi Bobbie - the photos on the Photo Synthesis blog are amazing - really great macros.

    I remember these guys from your posts - I believe you mentioned they are the ones to avoid touching - but given how they look - not touching suits me just fine.

  7. Hi Kathy - You are right. I have mentioned several times not to touch fireworms (and I know you won't do that). Thanks for the kind words about the macro images on Photo Synthesis.


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  9. I like its fuzzy appearance. Not what I think a worm might look like, but then again water creatures are in a world of their own. Great shot!


We welcome your comments and invite your questions. Dialogue is a good thing!

Bobbie & Jerry