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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Canalipalpata
Family: Acrocirridae
Genus: Swima
Osborn et al., 2009[1]

Swima is a genus of polychaete worm that lives in the deep ocean.[2] This deep ocean pelagic (free-swimming) annelid has modified bioluminescent gills that can be cast off from an individual. These discarded gills somewhat resemble green "bombs" that remain illuminated for several seconds after they have been discarded. It is thought that this is a defensive mechanism rather than reproductive, as it is seen in both mature and juvenile individuals.[3] Animals of the Swima genus are closely related to the recently discovered Teuthidodrilus genus, another pelagic cirratuliform of the bathyal zone.[4]


The first specimens of the Swima genus were discovered in the deep trenches of Monterey Bay, off the coast of California.


There are currently three species recognised within the Swima genus, the type species S. bombiviridis, S. fulgida and S. tawitawiensis.[4]

  1. S. bombiviridis (also known as Green Bomber Worm or Bombardier Worm) Osborn et al., 2009, from Monterey Bay, California
  2. S. fulgida, Shining Bomber
  3. S. tawitawiensis (also known as Tawi-Tawi Bomber) Osborn, Haddock & Rouse, 2011[5]

Anatomy and physiology[edit]

Animals of the Swima genus are characterized by a thick gelatinous sheath, transparent body, simple nuchal organs, a single medial subulate branchia, and four pair of small segmental branchiae modified as elliptical, bioluminescent sacs.[4]


The genus name, Swima, is derived from the Latin, referring to the animal's ability to swim.[3]


  1. ^ Osborn KJ, Haddock SHD, Pleijel F, Madin LP, Rouse GW (2009). "Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent "bombs"". Science. 325 (5943): 964. doi:10.1126/science.1172488. PMID 19696343. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Moskowitz C (2009). "Sea creature releases glowing decoy 'bombs'". LiveScience. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  3. ^ a b International Institute for Species Exploration (2010). "Bombardier Worm". Top 10 New Species – 2010. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona State University. Archived from the original on 2010-12-28. 
  4. ^ a b c Osborn KJ, Rouse GW (2010). "Phylogenetics of Acrocirridae and Flabelligeridae". Zoologica Scripta. 40 (2): 204–219. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2010.00460.x. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Swima tawitawiensis Osborn, Haddock & Rouse, 2011". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • Data related to Swima at Wikispecies