These are Christmas Tree Worms, and you can rest easy knowing that every night they are working to make the world gorgeous and weird — in that order.
There’s not much to say here. Christmas Tree Worms, also known as Spirobranchus giganteus, are sea creatures. They’re tube worms, and their main distinguishing feature is a spiraling double “crown” made of structures called radioles. These fringes are combination of tongues and lungs. They strain the water for food for the worms, bring in oxygen, and make humans happy when we look at them.
The only things these worms eat, besides the phytoplankton, is the coral they burrow into. Once the worms have found a place to stay, the eat down into the coral to make tunnels that they can retract into if they sense a threat. Here’s an up-close look at a Christmas Tree Worm. It’s absolutely lovely. Appreciate it, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Images: Nick Hobgood