I have been scouring the internet to find clues as to the exact genus of this worm from the Syllidae family. There doesn’t seem to be much. I’m fairly confident that the close ups and behaviour shown here are a first to be captured in this detail/magnification (for this species at least).
The head/face of the worm is about 1mm wide and resembles something like a cross between a walrus, medusa and the worm monsters from Dune! LOL I have been told that the “fangs” are actually palps (sensory organs). Details for a proper ID apparently microscopic or internal. Thank you Leslie Harris for the info. I hope the clip is of interest to you and would be grateful if you could shed more light on the species.
Turn up the sound and at least watch past 30% for the cool parts! �Many thanks to the staff at Yos DIve Lembeh and to Hiros Tempone for helping me find this guy and suggesting I search for a face on the worm!
Shot in 8k and 4k and rendered in 4k and 720 for Facebook. A 4k version has been uploaded here to YouTube and my Vimeo account. Sound effects were added in post for fun… no, the worms don’t make clicking Predator like noises 😛
For those of you interested in the lens I used for this clip, here it is;
I managed to get a description from a researcher (Leslie Harris) who is with the Natural History Museum of LA County. Thanks Leslie for the insight!
“After doing a bit of literature searching I think this is in genus Alcyonosyllis. It looks very similar to A. hinterkirchi, described from Bohol Is., Philippines, which lives on Goniopora cf stokesi. Since accurate identification depends on the internal & microscopic details I mentioned before I can’t be sure without examining specimens — there can certainly be more than one species living on Goniopora! You could use the name “Alcyonosyllis hinterkirchi?” with a question mark to show that the ID is tentative. The worm has 2 pairs of eyes; one pair is larger than the other. In some syllids the eyes have simple lenses. Yes, the “fangs” are sensory structures called palps; there are 3 long antennae on the head, 2 pairs of long tentacular cirri just behind the head, and 1 long dorsal cirri on each side of each body segment. Remember the movie Alien? And how, when the creature opened its mouth a long structure with jaws at the end came out? That’s pretty much the same with polychaetes. The structure is called a pharynx. In this guy the outside of the pharynx is soft, with 10 or so soft papillae near the end; the inside of the pharynx is bright white due to a layer of chitin which strengthens it. If this is an Alcyonosyllis there’s also a single pointed tooth on the chitinized section. A syllid like this will extrude the pharynx to either take a bite out of its food or use the tooth to puncture the food’s surface and suck out the contents.”