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Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

December 25, 2014

During a trip to Exuma Keys in the Bahamas for her Ph.D., WHOI research associate Kristen Whalen snapped this photo of a Christmas tree worm attached to coral. The branches of the “tree” are actually the worm’s radioles—tentacles that the animal uses for feeding and respiration. When the notoriously shy worm detects a threat, even so much as a shadow, the it will retract its radioles into the hole it has burrowed into the coral. All that to say, “Merry Christmas from the ocean to you.”(Photo by Kristen Whalen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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