Bristle Worm

Chloeia flava

Purple-Spotted Fire Worm (Chloeia flava) Purple-Spotted Fire Worm (Chloeia flava), Wild Guide to Moreton Bay

This is a large, thick, spindle-shaped worm growing to about 200 mm long. It is easily recognised by its bright red gills, purple spots, and large, conspicuous bundles of yellow, translucent bristles on each segment. If the worm is handled these bristles break off in the skin and can cause severe irritation. They are found in the subtidal zone on a variety of substrates, but typically where fine sands and muds overlie coarser sands or gravel. A predator and scavenger, it burrows through surface layers in search of food. A large, muscular pharynx can be everted, but it lacks jaws. It is often seen in trawls and also occasionally caught on prawn and fish baits.

Common across the tropical and subtropical Indo-West Pacific Oceans.

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