Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

 A stout, cylindrical worm up to 20 cm long that lives permanently in a thick, transparent, mucilagenous tube that remains almost completely buried in soft sediment. The head, which projects from the tube, is surrounded by a crown of purple and brown tentacles that are interlaced for most of their length, forming a characteristic funnel, with only their tips free. The body is segmented and dark yellow or orange in colour.  When disturbed the worm retracts into its tube and can reduce its length by half.Myxicola infundibulum may occasionally be found in conditions of variable salinity such as inlets and harbours.
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Distribution

Maine to New York; entire Pacific Coast
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Ecology

Habitat

circalittoral of the Gulf and estuary
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Depth range based on 5 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 5 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 14.17 - 105.5
  Temperature range (°C): 6.506 - 8.723
  Nitrate (umol/L): 3.459 - 9.842
  Salinity (PPS): 32.316 - 35.249
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.173 - 6.816
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.555 - 0.749
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.801 - 4.540

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 14.17 - 105.5

Temperature range (°C): 6.506 - 8.723

Nitrate (umol/L): 3.459 - 9.842

Salinity (PPS): 32.316 - 35.249

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.173 - 6.816

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.555 - 0.749

Silicate (umol/l): 2.801 - 4.540
 
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 Found buried in mud or sand sublittorally of depth down to 30 m in conditions of varied wave and tide exposure. Most abundant in wave sheltered habitats and may occur in variable salinity
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Stellwagen Bank Benthic Community

 

The species associated with this article partially comprise the benthic community of Stellwagen Bank, an undersea gravel and sand deposit stretching between Cape Cod and Cape Ann off the coast of Massachusetts. Protected since 1993 as part of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the bank is known primarily for whale-watching and commercial fishing of cod, lobster, hake, and other species (Eldredge 1993). 

The benthic community of Stellwagen Bank is diverse and varied, depending largely on the grain size of the substrate. Sessile organisms such as bryozoans, ascidians, tunicates, sponges, and tube worms prefer gravelly and rocky bottoms, while burrowing worms, burrowing anemones, and many mollusks prefer sand or mud surfaces (NOAA 2010). Macroalgae, such as kelps, are exceedingly rare in the area — most biogenic structure along the bottom is provided by sponges, cnidarians, and worms. The dominant phyla of the regional benthos are Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropoda, and Echinodermata (NOAA 2010). 

Ecologically, the Stellwagen Bank benthos contributes a number of functions to the wider ecosystem. Biogenic structure provided by sessile benthic organisms is critical for the survivorship of juveniles of many fish species, including flounders, hake, and Atlantic cod. The benthic community includes a greater than average proportion of detritivores — many crabs and filter-feeding mollusks — recycling debris which descends from the water column above (NOAA 2010). Finally, the organisms of the sea-bed are an important source of food for many free-swimming organisms. Creatures as large as the hump-backed whale rely on the benthos for food — either catching organisms off the surface or, in the whale’s case, stirring up and feeding on organisms which burrow in sandy bottoms (Hain et al 1995). 

As a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary, Stellwagen Bank is nominally protected from dredging, dumping, major external sources of pollution, and extraction of mammals, birds or reptiles (Eldredge 1993). The benthic habitat remains threatened, however, by destructive trawling practices. Trawl nets are often weighted in order that they be held against the bottom, flattening soft surfaces, destroying biogenic structure, and killing large numbers of benthic organisms. There is also occasional threat from contaminated sediments dredged from Boston harbor and deposited elsewhere in the region (NOAA 2010). The region benefits from close observation by NOAA and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, however, and NOAA did not feel the need to make any special recommendations for the preservation of benthic communities in their 2010 Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. 

  • Eldredge, Maureen. 1993. Stellwagen Bank: New England’s first sanctuary. Oceanus 36:72.
  • Hain JHW, Ellis SL, Kenney RD, Clapham PJ, Gray BK, Weinrich MT, Babb IG. 1995. Apparent bottom feeding by humpback-whales on Stellwagen Bank. Marine Mammal Science 11, 4:464-479.
  • National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration. 2010. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctary Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. “Section IV: Resource States” pp. 51-143. http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/fmp/pdfs/sbnms_fmp2010_lo.pdf
  • National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration. 2010. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctary Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. “Appendix J: Preliminary Species List for the SBNMS” pp. 370-381. http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/fmp/pdfs/sbnms_fmp2010_lo.pdf
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