Australian Tube Worm
Serpulidae - Ficopomatus Enigmaticus

What does it look like?

Australian Tube Worms live within a calcareous tube they have secreted.  These are usually white and with age turn a brown colour. The tubeworm has many plumes or gills which vary in colour from brown, green or gray and the worm itself grow up to 4cm although their tube they live in can be up to 10cm long.

Widespread around, estuaries and harbours, this tubeworm can tolerate habitat ranging from brackish, polluted and low oxygen, to environments with high salinities and a preference to slow moving and protected areas of water.

Why is it a problem?

This aggressive invader is fast growing, forms colonies on shells, rocks, marine vegetation also jetties, marinas, boats and moorings.  With the ability to grow on vessels and pipes, this can lead to heavy bio fouling and the clogging of underwater entry ports and pipes.  Tubeworms, when established on vessels hulls are then easily transported to new areas, where new colonies can become dominant.  These colonies of filter feeders compete with native marine life for essential nutrients and eventually displace previously established species.

Control Methods

You can help prevent the spread of marine pests by:

• Regularly cleaning your boat’s hull – ideally keep fouling growth to no more than a light slime layer.

• Applying a thorough coating of antifouling paint and keep it in good condition.

• Ensure your hull is clean and free of fouling before you travel to a new area.

• Clean and dry any marine equipment (e.g. ropes, lines and pots) before using in a new area.

• Inspect areas on your boat that retain water for signs of marine life.

• Check for aquatic weeds tangled around anchors, trailers and other equipment.

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