Proceraea prismatica

Author: Isaac Hatfield

Size range:  5-25 mm in length with up to 105 segments

Colour: Yellow or pale green with 3 dark lines down back and dark red tips of antennae and cirri.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Annelida

Class: Polychaeta

Order: Phyllodocida

Family: Syllidae

Genus: Proceraea

Species: P. prismatica

Identifying Features: Proceraea prismatica are in the class Polychaeta, marine worms with lobes hanging off each segment with many bristles, called chaetae, attached. Polychaetes can live in a variety of marine environments including hydrothermal vents, coral reefs, and the open ocean. They can also withstand extreme temperatures and conditions. The family Syllidae is made up of small, carnivorous marine worms with long dorsal hairlike appendages called cirri  and an eversible pharynx with either one single tooth or a trepan of teeth connected to a gizzard. They have a rounded head usually with four large eyes and three antennae. Proceraea prismatica have four red eyespots in a square formation and four hairlike tentacles called cirri on the first segment of their body. Cirri are also present mid-body and dorsally. Antennae are present at front and middle and triangular parts stick out from neck. Larger parapodia, lateral projections along body, are present on males. Their large eyes are not adapted for locating prey, rather for locating females for mating or migration. The P. prismatica has a trepan of 9 large and 9 small teeth. Long pharynx at back with 9 weak sensory receptors.

Habitat and distribution: On algae, sponges, and muddy or sandy ocean floors in intertidal zone to as deep as 700 m in Arctic, North Pacific, and North Atlantic to English Channel.


Fabricius. (1780). Proceraea prismatica. Retrieved November 23, 2018, from

Grube. (1850). Syllids (Family Syllidae). Retrieved November 23, 2018, from

Todd, C.D., et al. Coastal Marine Zooplankton: a Practical Manual for Students. Second ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.

Waters, E. F. (2015, July 01). 14 Fun Facts About Marine Bristle Worms. Retrieved November 23, 2018, from

Intertidal Flatworms

Common Names: Flatworms

Scientific Name: Notocomplana spp. (Notocomplana actinicola, Notoplana acticola, Leptoplana acticola)

Size Range: Up to 6cm (2.3 in. long)

There are many species of marine flatworms and according to Lamb and Hanby (2005) they can be “extremely difficult to identify”.

There will be more information on the flatworms coming soon!

Photos and video by D. Young


Lamb, Andy and Hanby, Bernard. 2005. Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Encyclopedia of Invertebrates, Seaweeds and Selected Fishes. Harbour Publishing.

Calcareous Tube Worm

By Ninh Khuong

Common name: Calcareous Tube Worm, Red-Trumpet Calcareous Tube Worm, Limy Tube Worm, Colourful Calcareous Tube Worm.

Scientific name: Serpula columbiana

In the past the species found on the Pacific Coast of North America was referred to as Serpula vermicularis.  They have since been found to be taxonomically distinct from this species and are now referred to as Serpula columbiana.

Size range: 2 or 3 inches (5-8 cm) long, tubes up to 4 inches (10 cm) long.

Identifying features: Calcareous tube worms have bright colors varying from orange to red with white bands.  The most indicative feature of these organisms is their feathery flower-like crown arranged in two spiraled-semicircles. The crown consists of branched tentacles known as cirri or radioles and a trumpet-shaped operculum. The tentacles reorganize into a funnel-shaped stopper when the crown is withdrawn. The animal lives in white calcified tubes. These tubes can be up to 10 cm long and about 2mm in diameter. Coils of white tubes are often seen fastened to hard substrates.

Habitat: This species commonly attaches to rocks, shells, floats, piers, stones, and algae such as Fucus.They live in tide pools and low intertidal zone to 100 m (330 feet) deep.  These worms tend to stay away from Nereocystis luetkeana, a type of kelp. These kelps contain carbon monoxide in their pneumatocysts, which is highly toxic to Serpula columbiana. The organism can be found in various places from Alaska to Northern California. They are also seen in South and West of Britain, West of Scotland, Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Food: Members of Serpula columbiana are filter feeders that feed on tiny microscopic organisms and detrital particles. When feeding, the animal extends the radioles from the anterior of its tube. Chains of cilia on these tentacles drift food particles towards the mouth.

Predators: Some of Serpula columbiana’s predators are the wrasse Ctenolabrus rupestris and Crenilabrus melops, the sea stars Asterias arbens and Pisaster ochraceus, and the urchins E. esculentus and P. miliaris. When the worm is threatened, it reacts instantly by withdrawing into its tube and closing its entrance-way with its operculum.

Life cycle: Serpula columbiana has separate sexes and goes through long breeding season occurring in summer. The operculum functions as a brood pouch in the species’ reproduction. Its reproduction includes a larval swimming phase. When removed from tubes, the animal releases gametes that develop into a trochophore larva. Prototroch, metatroch and other structures of the larva are visible after one week. A long apical tuft and a stomach are seen three days later. After two weeks, the larva has left and right ocelli (simple eyes) and chaetae (bristle made of chitin). After four weeks, the head grows farther from the body, and the ocelli move closer to each other. In addition, radiole buds of the larvae are developed. The radiole buds will eventually become adult feeding structures and respiratory organs. As larvae develop into juveniles, they will choose a location to settle.

Photograph by Ninh Khuong and D. Young

Illustration by Ninh Khuong

Video by Ninh Khuong and D. Young

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