Good morning from Curacao!, We finally got a little rain here this morning and for once the hurricane winds have stopped, I almost forgot what calmness is like! The island is fairly quiet right now but will soon be filled again with tourists on holiday and for those of you wondering the winter months here are by far the busiest. I have a cool open and closed photo for you today of cluster of Social Feather Dusters, one of my favorite creatures on the reef. I love to watch these worms on the reef as they sway back and forth with every wave that passes overhead and are home to all kinds of little fish and creatures. Feather dusters, also known as fan worms, do not appear to be worms at all, because their bodies are hidden inside parchment-like tubes attached to the reef. The flexible tube is constructed of fine sand held together with glue that is secreted by collar glands just below the head. Feather dusters have a highly modified head with a crown of feather-like appendages called radioles that are normally extended from the tube. These work as both gills, and for capturing plankton, which is moved to its mouth at the center of the feathery crown. The dramatic colors and patterns of the radioles are often the keys to visual identification. Feather duster worms are very sensitive to nearby movement and changes in light intensity and, if disturbed, instantly retract the crown as seen in the second photo. Social Feather-Duster Worms are well named. These worms live in groups, making them social. Their heads look like an old-fashioned feather duster that you might use to sweep dust off of your furniture. Social Feather-Duster Worms are tiny. If you look closely, you’ll see that each worm lives in its own tube. The tubes are small; about the size of a soda straw and barely 1/4 of an inch across. The worm’s head sticks out of the end of its tube. If danger threatens, it can pull its head down into its tube in the blink of an eye. The worm makes its tube using calcium-based minerals, similar to our bones. I have lots to do as usual, be back soon, Barry MORE: Social Feather Duster, Bispira brunnea, Sabellida
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