Fluorescent patterns, size, and abundance of the bearded fireworm Hermodice carunculata in the intertidal zone on Bonaire

Hermodice carunculata, commonly known as the Bearded Fireworm, is a corallivorous Polychaete found throughout the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean and is noted for its fluorescence. Studies have found that the highest abundance of H. carunculata is in water shallower than 1 m. The present study observed the habitat, size, and fluorescent patterns of H. carunculata in the intertidal zone of Yellow Submarine dive site on Bonaire. Three transects were laid at 55 cm and 110 cm deep, at 20 and 50 minutes after sunset. Additionally, fireworms were caught in wire traps to be more closely observed in the laboratory under a dissecting microscope. There was no significant difference between the depth (110 cm or 55 cm) and the size (less than or greater than 6 cm), nor was there a difference in abundance between the two time periods of data collection (20 minutes and 50 minutes after sunset). Furthermore, there was no significant difference between the fluorescent pattern (GREEN, GOB, OOB, or ROB) and the substrate (algae, coral, rubble, rock, or sand) the individual was found on, or fluorescent pattern and size. There was, however, a significant difference in density of fireworms per square meter over the five-week study period. Fireworm predation can have a large impact on the health of corals. This paper aims to increase the understanding of H. carunculata, so that the corals can be better protected, and the interaction between these two organisms can be better understood.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XVIII (Fall 2015)19: 54-60 from CIEE Bonaire.

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