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The body of the parchment tube worm, Chaetopterus variopedatus, is divided into three sections (Voss 1976). The anterior end is a combination of bristle-bearing segments and a shovel-like mouth. Paddle-like structures are found on the middle segment, which are used for pumping water through the subsurface tube. Finally, the body tapers through a series of segments toward the posterior section. The color of C. variopedatus is cream to pale pinkish, and the animal is capable of emitting intense bioluminescent flashes in response to external stimuli (see 'Community Ecology' below for more information). The worm usually remains burrowed beneath the sediment in its U-shaped tube, composed of a parchment-like material imbedded with sand grains (Voss 1976). Both ends of the tube project about 10-13 cm above the sediment surface, like tapering chimneys. Tubes can be seen washed ashore on nearby beaches after strong storms.

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© Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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