Diversity that boggles our minds – polychaete worms

Photo: “A variety of marine worms”: plate from Das Meer by M.J. Schleiden (1804–1881).

In 15 minutes of looking at the same rock I collected on the beach, I found more than 12 different species of polychaete worms. Some of them were swimmers; wriggling in the water column. Some of them had fans, others appendages to catch other swimmers. Some were deep purple and others deep red and firey.. it boggles my mind sometimes; how will we ever understand the diversity of life on this planet. Did I say; every single one of these worms was collected from a single rock.

In the next few days; I will share and collect data from each one of them.

Let’s start with this beautiful deep purple worm (bottom right). I mounted the worm in a 250um spacer (provided in the foldscope kit) with a glass cover slip on top.

Now; zooming in the foldscope was a real surprise. This is data from a basic foldscope with no light module first..

Notice the purple striations all along the segments. It’s really characteristic markings. Here is a slightly longer view with a more stable imaging using a light module.

Please; if you can identify this worm – please post below. I would love to be able to identify all of them.

Cheers

Manu

ps; more than 10,000 species of polychaete worms had been identified – with equally more remaining un-named. They range from a few micrometers to more than 2 feet.. and incredible variety. Let’s share these unsung heroes of the ocean; and document the diversity of this incredible family.

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