Are you interested in strange and unlikely marine creatures? Then Bonellia viridis, or the Green Spoon Worm, may be the one for you.  It looks unlike any worm or spoon that I have ever seen and neither does it look green, at least to me.

 

Its sausage shaped body remains buried in seabed gravels and what is seen is the ‘throat’ and a split mouth which can extend 15cm (10 times its body length) moving around between rocks and in crevices. When disturbed it retracts its mouth by rolling it up…. So quite difficult to spot!

We first saw these on a dive between Fuerteventura and Lanzarote many years ago and were excited to see a number on a dive in the Isle de Medes Marine Reserve, N Spain, this year.

It feeds on detritus, but its skin also has a poison which can paralyse small animals. 

What we see are always female, because this spoon worm is unusual for its extreme sexual dimorphism. Females are typically 8 cm (3 in) in body length, excluding the proboscis, but the males are only 1 to 3 mm (0.04 to 0.12 in) long, and spend their adult lives within the uterus of the female.  A young individual which settles away from others of its kind almost always grows into a female. On the other hand, if it settles on or near a female, it attaches to the mouth, develops into a male and gradually makes its way inside the female.

That’s probably enough of that…but in certain parts of the world, which shall remain anonymous, they are called Fat Innkeepers and eaten!

 

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