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Ophiodromus pugettensis (Bat star worm)

photo of bat star worm
Copyright © 2010 Mary Jo Adams

This slender polychaete is dark chocolate brown in color and reaches a length of 1-1/2 inches.  It moves with a rapid undulating motion.  As its common name suggests, this worm may live commensally on bat stars (Asterina miniata) where many individual worms may reside on a single sea star.  It is occasionally found on other species of sea stars or it may be free living.  Because bat stars are very unusual in Washington and Oregon, this polychaete is most commonly seen in a free living state in our area.  Look for this worm among algae on muddy sand and on floats and pilings.  The bat star worm is an omnivore consuming diatoms, copepods, and plant material and it is known to scavenge on dead animals.  It is also known by the common name bat star commensal worm.  Ophiodromus pugettensis belongs to the polychaete family Hessionidae.

This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 1/11/10.