Strange Ocean Animals part 1 – Fringed Worms

The small city of Dahab in southern Sinai is famous for its variety of underwater habitats. Some of them are difficult to find anywhere else. The rounded rocks near the bridge in the middle of town remind me of a couple of dive sites in Anilao. Basura and Mato Point, and it’s not easy to remember the same ones in other places.

Many people, including scuba divers, enter the water every day in this place, next to which there are two diving centers. But no one explores shallow places, less than 2-3 meters deep. Meanwhile, you can find a lot of interesting things there and I will talk about these finds from time to time.

Cirratulids are also called fringed worms because their bodies appear to have a fringe of fine threads along the length. This fringe, in fact, is the gills. Each thread is hollow and is flooded with hemoglobin-bearing blood.

Colonies of Tharyx spp. with a diameter of 12-15 cm, most often found under the edges of stones, 1.5-2 m deep. I used underwater camera with +10 wet lens to make this super-macro shot. To the naked eye, they are tiny underwater creatures with thread-like gills thinner than a human hair.

This is what a larger fragment of a densely populated colony of these underwater creatures looks like. As far as I know, only species of the genus Tharyx of this family drill into calcareous substrates – shells and corals. I have not found any mention of findings of marine worms of this genus in the Red Sea. It is very likely that they have not yet been described by marine biologists.

I thank Dr. Vasily Radashevsky for his help in identifying these strange ocean creatures. More information in my book – The Weird and Wonderful World of Marine Worms

Best, Andrey Ryanskiy

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