Slime Tube Worm – Myxicola infundibulum
The Slime Tube Worm, also known as Slime Feather Duster, is a species in the class of the Polychaete. Myxicola means “living in mucus” and infundibulum refers to the funnel shape of the radioles (featherlike tentacles).
Usually there is only the tentacle crown to be seen of the Slime Tube Worm. The rest of the worm is buried in sand or mud in a tube. The body of Myxicola infundibulum consists of up to 150 segments.
The tentacle crown is circular and has a reddish to brown colour. While the tentacle tips are exposed, the base of the tentacles are connected due a membrane.
The tentacle crown reaches a diameter of 6cm and the worm itself can be up to 20cm long. The tube, in which Myxicola infundibulum lives, has a maximum diameter of 3cm, is gelatine-like, transparent and carrot-shaped.
Variations in colour are possible.
Habitat and Distribution
Myxicola infundibulum lives in sandy or muddy soils, down to a depth of 500m. In this case, it prefers regions which are protected by wave motions.
When diving in the Canaries it is rather rare.
The area of distribution reaches over the Arctic, the northern Pacific coast of America, from the North Atlantic to Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, the Mediterranean, the North Sea and Australia.
So far I have observed Myxicola infundibulum only solitary. However, individuals living together can produce so much mucus that they form a rock-like colony.
When you get too close to them, they pull back very quickly into their tube. They can halve their body length. Due to the rapid withdrawal, the Slime Tube Worm is not only protected against predators, but also waste and the like are thrown out of the tube.
The nutrition of the Slime Tube Worm consists of plankton.