Ribbon Worm Triptych

Ribbon Worm Triptych30″x35″

Ribbon Worm Triptych

Orange Ribbon Worm – top
Tubulanus polymorphus

Six-Lined Ribbon Worm – bottom right
Tubulanus sexlineatus

Brown-Banded Ribbon Worm – bottom left
Baseodiscus cingulatus

Top and bottom right:

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

Bottom left:

French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

NOAA Vessel Oscar Sette, shipboard studio

Archival Pigment Print

The blue whale, weighing as much as 170 metric tons (375,000 pounds), certainly wins the prize for most massive animal on earth today, but it’s not the longest. That distinction goes to certain ribbon worms: One animal that washed up on a Scottish beach measured 54 meters (177 feet) (the blue whale reaches 30 meters [about 100 feet] in length). Ribbon worms comprise their own distinct phylum of worms that are typically narrow, stretchy, and fragile. One group lives inside clam shells, feeding on plankton in the circulating water, and another lives on female crustaceans, eating the developing embryos being brooded. Most ribbon worms, though, are like these three: free-living predators on animals such as polychaete worms and crustaceans.