Spaghetti Worm (Terebellidae)

The Spaghetti Worm is the common name for several species of polychaete worms that live in sand or mud tubes in the intertidal and shallow subtidal zones from Alaska to southern California. They are members of a polychaete worm family called Terebellidae characterized by having movable tentacles in the head area that are not withdrawn into the mouth. The white, string-like tentacles can be extended many times the body length over the surface of the sediment searching for particles of food. Captured food items are moved to the mouth along ciliated grooves.

They usually form their tubes under or nestled against rocks or other larger, hard objects including mussels on floats. This two inch specimen (they can grow to 6 inches or more) was removed from it’s protective mud tube to show the body segments. Notice just under the base of the white tentacles on the left side of the head is a small red mass which is part of the branching gill system that supplies the animal with oxygen.

Polychaete worms are a major group of multi-segmented animals that, along with garden earthworms and leeches, are members of the Phylum Annelida of the animal kingdom. Predominantly marine, they are commonly seen on marina floats or burrowed in beach sediments. The body segments often contain twin parapodia which are fleshy protrusions, bearing stiff bristles, used for both respiration and locomotion. Polychaeta means many-bristled.


By Grimm

Once upon a time . . . in the forest lived a wolf, known to be savage and ruthless. One day, feeling thirsty, the wolf went down to a stream, and as he drank the sparkling water, he saw a lamb drinking, further downstream. The minute he set eyes on the hapless lamb, he decided to make a meal of it. “A nice plump lamb! Fine and tender! Yummy! That will be delicious! I haven’t had such luck in ages! Now, I must find an excuse for picking a quarrel, so that nobody can accuse me of gobbling it unjustly!”

Unaware of the wolf, the lamb was still happily sipping the water when it heard a deep growl from above its head.

“You down there! You’re muddying my drinking water!”

The lamb gasped in surprise: “I’m sorry, Mr. Wolf, but I can t possibly be muddying your drinking water. I’m below you and the water is flowing downhill, not up!”

The wicked wolf was taken aback by this reply, but only for an instant. He quickly hit upon another excuse to be angry. “I hear you went around six months ago telling people that I’m violent and a bully!”

At that, the now frightened lamb began to tremble, and it replied in a tiny voice: “How can you believe such a thing, Mr. Wolf? I’ve never said a bad word about you! Indeed, I’ll be able only to speak well of you in the future.” To its relief, the lamb remembered that it could prove its innocence. “I wasn’t even born six months ago! So I couldn’t have spread gossip about you.”

But the wolf was only interested in gobbling up his prey, so he hastily broke in: “Well, if it wasn’t you, it was your father,” and, pouncing on the little white lamb, he quickly ate it.

Alas and alack! Innocence does not always save us from the clutches of a tyrant…