Scaleworms at Axial

Scaleworms (Branchinotogluma tunnicliffae)

Two scaleworms roam among the Palm Worms and Limpets at Mushroom, one of the hydrothermal vents at ASHES vent field on Axial Seamount.  One worm shows its usual pinkish red color (at left), while the other is coated with a fur-like layer of filamentous bacteria. This image was taken with the RSN HD Video Camera during its test on the seafloor during VISIONS 13.

Scaleworms are flat-bodied, segmented Polychaetes that are very commonly observed roaming through tube worms and ciliate colonies on hydrothermal vents at Axial Seamount.  They are often bright fuscia in color, however they can also carry a fur-like coat of white filamentous bacteria.  When they molt, they have a lighter pink shade.  These worms are scavengers, and have also been observed to attack the Ridgeia tubeworms (see the video).  They are approximately 3 cm in length.


Marine Life Field Guide (Neptune Canada)