Sabella pavonina

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Peacock worm
DSAC Sound of Mull Peacock Worm.jpg
Peacock worm in the Sound of Mull
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Canalipalpata
Suborder: Sabellida
Family: Sabellidae
Genus: Sabella
Species: S. pavonina
Binomial name
Sabella pavonina
Savigny, 1820

Sabella pavonina, commonly known as the peacock worm, is a marine polychaete worm belonging to the family Sabellidae. It occurs along the coasts of Western Europe and the Mediterranean. It is found in shallow, tidal waters with a bed of mud, sand or gravel. It is sometimes found on rocks or shipwrecks.

It is 10-25 centimetres in length. Its body is elongated and divided into 100-600 small segments. The head has two fans of feathery tentacles arising from fleshy, semi-circular lobes. The body is mostly grey-green while the tentacles are brown, red or purple with darker bands.

The worm lives inside a smooth tube of fine mud or sand particles held together with mucus. The tube stands upright with the lower end attached to stones and the upper end protruding from the sea bed. When covered by water, the worm extends its tentacles out of the tube to feed by filtering out small food particles.[1] At low tide or when disturbed, it withdraws back into the tube.


  1. ^ DK Publishing (17 January 2011). Animal Life: Secrets of the Animal World Revealed. DK Publishing. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-7566-8886-8. 
  • Barrett, John & Yonge, C. M. (1977) Collins Pocket Guide to the Sea Shore, Collins, London.
  • Forey, Pamela & Fitzsimons, Cecilia (1994) Letts Pocket Guide to Sea & Seashore Life, Letts, London.
  • Naylor, Paul (2003) Great British Marine Animals, Sound Diving Publications.

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