[Annelida] Swima the swimmer

James Blake via annelida%40net.bio.net (by jablake9 from gmail.com)
Sat Aug 22 13:57:08 EST 2009

As a scientist interested in deep-sea ecology and polychaetes in particular,
I found this to be one of the most interesting discoveries in quite some
time. I had a chance to see some of Karen's examples during a short visit to
Scripps last year, but had no idea that so many new taxa (7) had been
discovered by her team. Given the relatively small geographic area sampled,
this suggests that many more species are awaiting discovery.

The second video shows numerous specimens swimming near the seafloor which
raises questions regarding their mode of life. Although there is no evidence
that they are predatory, I wonder if they might be feeding on epi-benthic
organisms such as cumaceans and mysids that swim just above the
sediment-water interface.

The Acrocirridae are proving to be much more diverse than previously
believed. In our studies of deep-sea benthos, I have identified something
like 15 distinct species of *Flabelligella sensu lato *(with 0, 1, 2,
?3 pairs of branchiae) from around North America, ca. 2/3 are undescribed.

It is interesting that that Karen's new pelagic taxa do not have the
compound setae that characterize their benthic counterparts.

Congratulations to the authors, I look forward to seeing more results.

Jim Blake

On 8/22/09, Geoff Read <g.read from niwa.co.nz> wrote:
> Osborn KJ, Haddock SHD, Pleijel F, Madin LP, Rouse GW 2009. Deep-Sea,
> Swimming Worms with Luminescent "Bombs". Science 325: 964 (and online
> 'supplement').
> http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/citmgr?gca=sci;325/5943/964
> Swima bombiviridis named (new genus, new species of acrocirrid)
> Abstract: "By using remotely operated vehicles, we found seven previously
> unknown species of swimming annelid worms below 1800 meters. Specimens were
> large and bore a variety of elaborate head appendages. In addition, five
> species have pairs of ellipsoidal organs homologous to branchiae that
> produce brilliant green bioluminescence when autotomized. Five genes were
> used to determine the evolutionary relationships of these worms within
> Cirratuliformia. These species form a clade within Acrocirridae and were not
> closely related to either of the two known pelagic cirratuliforms. Thus,
> this clade represents a third invasion of the pelagic realm from
> Cirratuliformia. This finding emphasizes the wealth of discoveries to be
> made in pelagic and deep demersal habitats."
> Nice discovery. I want to know what they feed on, and how.
> Geoff
> --
> Geoff Read <g.read from niwa.co.nz>
> http://www.annelida.net/
> http://www.niwa.co.nz/about-niwa
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James A. Blake, Ph.D.
Marine & Coastal Center
AECOM Environment, NE Region
89 Water Street
Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543
Tel: 508-457-7900; FAX: 5008-457-7595
E-Mail: James.Blake from aecom.com and
jablake9 from gmail.com
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