Red-Spotted Horseshoe – Protula tubularia

The Red-Spotted Horseshoe, also known as Slime Feather Duster, is a species in the class of the Polychaete. Protula tubularia was first described in 1803 by Montagu.

Red-Spotted Horseshoe - Protula tubularia polychaete species bristle worm diving canary islands canaries atlantic ocean
Red-Spotted Horseshoe – Protula tubularia


The Red-Spotted Horseshoe has an orange-white colouration, with variations being possible. So it may be that it is completely white or red. It has 24-45 tentacle pairs, which are arranged in two spirals and are connected at the base with a small membrane.

The elongated body is cylindrical, runs sharp towards the end, and has up to 125 segments. The anterior part of the body is greenish, while the posterior part is red-orange.

His white tube is up to 15cm long and reaches a maximum diameter of 1cm. The tentacle rim only reaches a diameter of 3cm.

Its tube is smooth and less flexible than it is at similar species.

Habitat and Distribution

Protula tubularia lives on a solid ground mostly near the coast. However, you can find it down to depths of 100m.

When diving in the Canaries you can see Protula tubularia every now and then. Due to the size, a good eye is required.

In addition, its distribution area extends across the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the Atlantic from Norway, across Great Britain, along the European and African coast to South Africa. Sightings from the Gulf of Maine and New Zealand are also recorded.


The Red-Spotted Horseshoe usually lives solitary, but can also occur locally in colonies. It never leaves its tube!

Its diet consists of plankton, which it filters out of the water due to its tentacle crown.

If it feels threatened, it simply moves back into its tube. This can be closed by a cover.

The reproduction of Protula tubularia takes place from July to September.


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