Sunday, 7 April 2013

Fireworm, Chloeia

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Red-tipped Fireworm, Chloeia viridis
Fireworms! Because sometimes beauty causes a painful rash.

We've seen the Bearded Fireworm before but I thought it would be cool to see what some of their relatives get up to. Especially since it seems like the thing that guy fished up last time was in fact a Fireworm of the genus Chloeia.

Image: wildsingapore
There are about two dozen species in this Indo-Pacific genus and all the ones I've seen are quite lovely to look at, with all sorts of colours and patterns all over their fuzzy-wuzzy body. They're a lot like those caterpillars. You know the ones. The colourful, fuzzy ones everyone tells you not to touch because they'll sting and it'll hurt and you'll cry.

Fireworms are just like that. They're BRISTLING with painful, stinging... bristles. They're sharp and keen to embed themselves in skin. where they easily break off and stay there like a splinter, only more poisonous. Think of it more as a a conga line of aquatic wasps walking around being pretty.

Video: shachimaru1

And they really do walk. These are polychaetes, the ones with the fleshy bits on their sides that pretend to be legs. These have yet more bristles attached so the Fireworm can crawl around the place, looking like some weird half stinging caterpillar, half stinging centipede, half nest-of-stinging-wasps thing. That's THREE halves. All of which sting. So wear gloves. Or those massive foam hands. Or a collection of tiny ones.

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Diving into a burrow
It's evident that at least some of these Fireworms are able to burrow into the sand and I suppose they'll spend some of their time in there, but eventually they get hungry. You might not like them when they're hungry.

It's not necessarily the strange, gaping mouth which seems to pop out from nowhere...

Image: mentalblock_DMD
It's the corpses.

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Fireworms aren't above a bit of scavenging...

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Quite lot of scavenging...

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Like hairy Hagfish.

Image: mentalblock_DMD
Or a bone-nest of wasp nests.

Isn't it always the way? You find someone beautiful to add a bit of colour to your life and then they sting you and munch on a fish-head. *sigh*.


TexWisGirl said...

laughing at you all the way through. with you?

yup, gotta avoid the pretty ones. they'll hurt you for sure.

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Ooooh, with me, at me, I don't mind!

Christopher Hall said...

I saw one of these in the Gulf of California, when I was there for a biology field trip. I had actually tried to pick it up, and then saw all the spines in my fingers. A kid nearby told me it was a fireworm and I was about to start hurting. I rubbed my hand in the sand, and never felt a thing, and consider myself very lucky about that. Very cool video, looks like a hairy vacuum cleaner extension tube, sucking up those meaty bits.

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Hahah! I'm imagining this child staring at you with cold eyes waiting for your pain to begin.

Cool that it didn't hurt! Maybe you have some kind of super power!

Tiamat Michelle Hart said...

I bet they play some mean wind instruments, though, if The Little Mermaid has taught me anything....

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Ha! I think you can make wind instruments out of bones!

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