White catworm (Nephtys cirrosa)
|Researched by||Georgina Budd||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||-|
Nephtys cirrosa is a thin, smooth, segmented worm, up to 10 cm in length. Its head is small, with four small antennae. Nephtys cirrosa has a large proboscis, covered in prominent papillae, that it projects and uses to dig into the sediment. It is oval in cross section but, may appear flattened (when viewed from above) owing to bristled lobes (parapods) which extend from the body. It is a lustrous white colour with golden bristled parapods. Nephtys cirrosa is an active worm which demonstrates the characteristic swimming motion (a rapid lateral wriggling, starting from the rear and increasing in amplitude towards the head) of the Nephtyidae.
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandFound throughout the British Isles, where it nears the northern limit of its distribution.
Global distributionNephtys cirrosa reaches its northern limit in Scotland, and German Bight of the North Sea. The species is found in the Mediterranean.
HabitatNephtys cirrosa lives infaunally in sandy sediment in the intertidal and shallow sublittoral, where it is often abundant. It does not make a definite burrow.
- Body with 90-95 segments, 6-10 cm in length and relatively thin.
- Smooth front and back surfaces, lustrous white in colour.
- Golden bristled parapods (locomotory structures) extend to each side giving a flattened appearance but, in section, body is oval.
- Small head, the prostomium (a flattened sphere projecting forwards above the mouth) has four small antennae at its anterior corners.
- Eyes are not obvious.
- Large proboscis with many papillae (including a large mid-dorsal one) may be projected and used to dig rapidly into sediment if disturbed.
- Chaetae (bristles) on posterior parapods very finely toothed, some sharply bent.
- On all but the first few body segments there is a reddish, sickle-shaped gill located between the dorsal and ventral lobes of the body segment.
- Long single tail-filament trails from the rear end.
- The different species of Nephtyidae are difficult to identify, requiring detailed examination of the parapoda and chaetae. Reference to Rainer (1991) is recommended.
- Large worms are used for bait and are called 'catworms' by anglers.
- Nephtys cirrosa prefers cleaner and coarser sand than Nephtys hombergii.
- Four species of Nephtys (Nephtys caeca, Nephtys cirrosa, Nephtys hombergii and Nephtys longosetosa) occur intertidally in the British Isles, two others, Nephtys ciliata and Nephtys hystricis, are confined almost exclusively to the subtidal (Olive & Morgan, 1991).
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NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.
OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System), 2023. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2023-09-27
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Worms (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/5vh0w8 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.
This review can be cited as:
Last Updated: 26/10/2005