Feather-duster worms

Taxonomically, the feather-duster tubeworms (Family Sabellidae) of the Pacific Northwest are in a state of flux because many species descriptions are based on specimens of European worms that may or may not exist along this coast. Gradually, research and new descriptions are determining the true identity of species in this group. As seen in the photographs, the feather-duster tubeworms are diverse. Their size range is also extreme, from less than 1 cm (0.4 in) to 2.1 m (7 ft)! The similarity of the tentacular crown structure and the household “feather duster” appears to be the common name’s origin. To varying degrees, the tentacular crown (plume) serves the dual purpose of respiration and filter feeding, similar to the calcareous tubeworms, p. 147. The crown is bilobed and the spoke-like tentacular radioles (branches) that extend from each lobe have tiny lateral branches called pinnules. Feather-duster tubeworms have as few as two pairs of radioles to several hundred pairs. Both radioles and pinnules are grooved and ciliated. The cilia (hairs) effectively aerate the blood by circulating water up through the plume, while at the same time filtering out food items such as unicellular algae and planktonic larvae. Once captured, the food moves down the grooves of the radioles to the mouth. The feather-duster tubeworms have an amazing ability to sort and select particles by size, some obviously for ingestion and others for tube-building material. The action of giant nerve fibres within the ventral nerve cord enables these worms to retract inside their tubes rapidly when disturbed.



Chone ecaudata, Chone minuta


Chone aurantiaca


Parasabella media, Demonax medius, Sabella media, Distylia rugosa, Sabella rugosa, Parasabella rugosa, Parasabella...

AN63. POLYMORPH FEATHER-DUSTER, plume worm, feather-duster worm

Eudistylia polymorpha

AN64. VANCOUVER FEATHER-DUSTER, feather duster worm, northern feather duster worm, plume worm, parchment tube worm

Eudistylia vancouveri, Eudistylia plumosa, Sabella vancouveri

AN65. SPLIT-BRANCH FEATHER-DUSTER, split-plume feather-duster, feather duster worm, plume worm, fan worm

Schizobranchia insignis

AN66. SLIME-TUBE FEATHER-DUSTER, slime tubeworm, slime tube worm, slime-dweller, slime feather duster, funnel plume worm, sabellid worm

Myxicola infundibulum


Myxicola aesthetica, Leptochone aesthetica

AN67. TWIN-EYED FEATHER-DUSTER, plume worm, feather-duster worm

Bispira sp. (as Sabella crassicornis)