Banner Sea Nymph

Banner Sea Nymph 2Banner Sea Nymph (with proboscis emerged revealing jaws)
Nereis vexillosa

Marine_06-09_19850

Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington

Archival Pigment Print

The genus name for this group of worms refers to the ancient Greek sea god Nereus, who like the worms was a shape shifter. The animals in these photographs were found crawling on intertidal sand flats, but when it comes time to breed, they’ll undergo a drastic transformation to become swimmers: Their appendages will become long and paddle-like, their eyes much larger, and their swimming muscles enhanced. Males and females swollen with gametes will then gather at the water’s surface, spawn their sperm and eggs freely, and die. Until that time, however, the worms will live on the bottom, feeding on pieces of seaweed and possibly small animal prey taken with their black, pincer-like jaws.