[Annelida] Re: Bioluminescent Marine Annelids

Andy Mackie via annelida%40net.bio.net (by Andy.Mackie from museumwales.ac.uk)
Mon May 16 07:20:37 EST 2011

Hi Paul

The worm in question  may well be a species of Caulleriella.  Bonhomme (1944, 1954) studied bioluminescence in Caulleriella bioculata, and Gibbs (1971) noted it in Caulleriella caputesocis (= Chaetozone caputesocis according to Petersen 1999). Other cirratulids have also been reported to exhibit this (e.g., Dodecaceria according to Bonhomme). See Table 1 of Petersen (1999) for some cirratulids from other geographical areas.


Bonhomme, C. 1944. La luminescence de Heterocirrus bioculatus Keferstein. Bulletin de L'Insitut Oceanographique, Monaco 871: 1-7.
Bonhomme, C. 1954. L'appareil photogene de quelques annélides méditerranéennes. Étude histologique et histophysiologique des photocytes.  Archives d'Anatomie Microscopique et se Morphologie Expérimentale 43: 202-235.
Gibbs, P.E. 1971. A comparative study of reproductive cycles in four polychaete species belonging to the Family Cirratulidae. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 51: 745-769
Petersen, M.E. 1999. Reproduction and development in Cirratulidae (Annelida: Polychaeta). Hydrobiologia 402:107-128

On 16/05/2011 10:47, "Paul Chambers" <paulmchambers from hotmail.com> wrote:

Dear All,

A friend recently reported to me that his footprints had been glowing when walking on a local beach at night on the south-east coast of Jersey (British Channel Islands). Last night he took me to the spot and sure enough, when the sediment (a poorly sorted gravelly sand) was disturbed, there would be a series of brief but bright pin points of lights, some of which glowed for a few seconds. If the sediment was kicked then a shower of 'sparks' would be emited, a bit like kicking an ember from a fire.

I gathered some of the glowing sediment from several locations and have just looked at them under the microscope. The only animal common to all samples is a species of small annelid photos of which are attached.

I think it may be a type of syilld but my ID guide only lists a few species, none of which seem to match this one. The worm is about 4mm in length and was found on the middle and lower shore; they would glow when on the sediment surface but actually seemed to be most common at about 2 to 5 cm depth. Last night was a full moon but my firend says that he has seen them on moonless nights as well.

Pardon the pun, but can anyone shed a bit more light on the identifcation of this animal and the purpose of its bioluminesence (mating?).

Many thanks,

Paul Chambers

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