More megalopae and nifty nereids

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Nereis in distance

After a question from Johan about ‘weird, somewhat disgusting, sea snake/fish slithering around the surface’ at night and from Max (Dock worker extraordinaire!) about ‘long skinny creatures’ ranging in size from 6″ to 1′, I thought I better go investigate…

Max also sent the photo above and the two below:

Nereis Max1 Nereis Max2

These creatures are what I learned as Nereis brandti but are now called Alitta brandti.  Learn more about these giant pileworms from:

Alitta brandti at Encyclopedia of Life

Nereis (Neanthes) brandti at Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

Alitta brandti at World Polychaete Database

Megalopae2

On Sunday 2 June we hung a light off the Pearson College dock which attracted many, many megalopae (Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister).  Periodically a worm would also be attracted to the light.

Nereis & megalopae

I did pester a few of the worms and they released big clouds of sperm.  The reproductive strategy is called epitoky where the posterior end of the polychaete worm is transformed into a bag of gametes (either sperm or eggs). The epitokes swarm at the surface and then explode to release the gametes. Crazy but cool!

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