#Biodiversity150 number 15 of 150 Feather Duster Worm

15/150: Pretty underwater feather dusters or worms with tentacle eyes? Why not both!

Animalia: Annelida: Polychaeta: Sabellida: Sabellidae: Eudistylia: Eudistylia vancouveri (Kinberg, 1866)

You wouldn’t expect that the beautiful Vancouver feather duster (Eudistylia vancouveri) is a type of worm, but that’s exactly what it is. It belongs to a class of segmented bristle worms called Polychaeta within the family Sabellidae, AKA feather duster worms. They are sedentary marine worms that live in parchment-like tubes made of sediment. Their heads are concealed in a feathery crown of colourful tentacles, called radioles, which are used for respiration and filter feeding. E. vancouveri can be distinguished by its green and maroon plumes which get to 5 cm in diameter. These worms can grow up to 45 cm long within a tube that can be 20 cm longer! They can detect light using primitive eyes (ocelli) along their ‘feathers’ and will retract their crowns instantly when threatened. Feather duster worms are common in intertidal zones around the world and often aggregate in large clusters on marine docks and pilings. There are 366 feather duster worms with barcodes on BOLD.

To see how feather duster worms filter feed watch this video!


Specimen 11BIOAK-1546 – Cook Inlet, Alaska – 15-May-2011 Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
A cluster of Eudistylia vancouveri under a boat launch ramp. Photo Credit: Luke McGuff goo.gl/m9pqdb

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID:  KBPOL736-11

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAD0909

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Eudistylia vancouveri