information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A tubeworm (Spirorbis (Spirorbis) spirorbis)

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



The body of Spirorbis (Spirorbis) spirorbis is often no more than a few mm in length and orange-red in colour. It is permanently encased in a characteristic smooth, white, evenly coiled tube, 3-4 mm in diameter. The tube is sinistral (coils to the left) with a small, peripheral flange.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common on the rocky shores of Britain, particularly the west coast of Scotland, and also occurs in Ireland.

Global distribution

Common around the coast of north west Europe.


Spirorbis (Spirorbis) spirorbis particularly favours the fronds of Fucus serratus and Fucus vesiculosus in the shallow sublittoral and intertidal but also occurs on other algae such as laminarian algae, Himanthalia elongata buttons and, more rarely, stones.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Smooth, white spiral tube, 3-4 mm diameter.
  • Small peripheral flange spreading over the substratum at the attachment of the tube.
  • Tube coils to the left (sinistral).

Additional information

Large numbers of Spirorbis (Spirorbis) spirorbis individuals may be found on a single piece of Fucus.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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    This review can be cited as:

    Ballerstedt, S. 2001. Spirorbis (Spirorbis) spirorbis A tubeworm. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-09-2018]. Available from:

    Last Updated: 20/11/2001