Common Name: Hawaiian Orange Fireworm
Scientific Name: Eurythoe complanata
Species: E. complanata
This animal, Eurythoe complanata, commonly known as a Hawaiian orange fireworm. These fire worms can reach up to 6 inches in length. They are a brightly salmon pink or orange color for their body. The outside of their body has long white bristles protruding laterally. The fireworm mostly sticks to the rocks or reefs. The fireworm actually has very good protection against predators. If the predators eat them they aren’t good for it and when something touches the bristles it will get stung. Each bristle has toxin on them.
They are normally found in Hawaii and Australia. You can find the fireworm at the deepest parts of the ocean or sometimes on the surface. Fireworms are consumers, which means they consume remains or little animals. There are more than 10,000 species noted of the fireworm. They are very abundant on reefs and they are growing quickly. Fireworms like to stay close or on reefs. The only thing that is contributing to their change is a change in global temperature. The fireworm actually gets its food a lot easier than other worms. They capture food by digging in sand or mud. They capture them by using something special they have called a pharynx, or long mouth shot. Animals that they compete for food are mostly other worms.
They are really protected from fish and most fish learn not to attack them. People say fireworms are like janitors because when they move across the bottom they eat all the remains. There are not many animals that eat the fireworm. Some animals that eat it are crabs and bigger worms. It avoids being eaten with its bristle that can sting you. If you get stung by one you have to tape it out.
Photo credit by Debbie Hauter