A fanworm (Manayunkia aestuarina)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Manayunkia aestuarina is a small, colourless or brown, sabellid fanworm reaching up to 6 mm in length. Eight yellow ciliated tentacles (pinnules) and two green ciliated palps project from the head of the worm. The mouth is located beneath the palps and there is a black eye spot either side of the head (prostomium). The rest of the body comprises eight thoracic and three abdominal segments. Bristles on the thoracic segments are lance-like and short. Manayunkia aestuarina bind sand and mud particles together to form a tube roughly twice the length of the animal.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Relatively common around the British coast, but rare around Scottish and Northern Ireland coasts. Absence of Irish records most likely reflects no really accessible data sources.

Global distribution



Manayunkia aestuarina are characteristic of brackish water and found sublittorally in sandy and muddy estuaries to depths of 30 m in sediment.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • A small worm, up to 6 mm in length.
  • Eight thoracic and three abdominal segments.
  • Colourless or brown.
  • Eight yellow tentacles and two green palps project from the head.

Additional information

Manayunkia aestuarina is the only species of this genus to be found around British coasts.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Clay, E., 1967e. Literature survey of the common fauna of estuaries. 4. Manayunkia aestuarina Bourne. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, Brixham Laboratory, PVM45/B/377.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


  1. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.ukl accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2017. NE Scotland other invertebrate records 1800-2010. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ifjfxz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-05-21


This review can be cited as:

Ballerstedt, S. 2005. Manayunkia aestuarina A fanworm. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-05-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1695

Last Updated: 26/10/2005