Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon. If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., two subspecies may be illustrated) then links to the separate images will be provided below.
Several species of Chiridota have been described from the waters of the northeastern Pacific. The species are poorly defined and difficult to distinguish; so until the taxonomy is revised, I cannot present definitive descriptions. C. albatrossii has the most complete description and is probably the common deepwater species.
All species are wormlike, varying in length up to 30 cm. Five longitudinal muscles and other organs are visible through the translucent skin. A series of white bumps (wheel papillae) of varying number occur in rows along the length of the body. These papillae contain clusters of microscopic wheel ossicles. The top pair in the figure is from a specimen collected near Auke Bay, Alaska, and the lower pair from near Victoria. There is a slight difference in size and detail, but they do not appear to be significantly different. Feeding tentacles are short and clawlike and range in number from 12 to 15, with 8 to 12 side branches. When freshly dredged, swollen sections of the body look like clear jelly beans.
Chiridota albatrossii can grow up to 25 cm long. In life, it is a pinkish purple; but in alcohol the body is pale with minute orange spots. The 12 pinnate tentacles each have 6 to 14 lateral fingers. Three irregular rows of white spots occur along the dorsal side, and a few rows ventrally. Wheel ossicles measure from 80 to 120 μm in diameter. Rod-shaped ossicles in the anterior dorsal skin are 50 to 150 μm long.
Chiridota is similar to the other common wormlike genus, Leptosynapta, but Leptosynapta is usually yellow, reddish or white; it has no rows of white spots, and it inhabits muddy intertidal or shallow subtidal areas. Leptosynapta species have anchors and anchor plates in the skin, not wheel ossicles.
While scuba diving on the evening of 28 March 1997 in Sechelt Inlet, Neil McDaniel observed large numbers of Chiridota extending from a mixed shell-gravel-mud substratum and releasing gametes from the anterior end. To my knowledge, this has not been reported in the literature before.
Specimens that I have identified as Chiridota albatrossii are extremely abundant (55 per m²) in the soft sediment of fiords like Howe Sound, Quatsino Sound, Alice Arm, Burke Channel and Portland Canal. I have also collected it in about 16 metres (50 feet) of water near the head of Saanich Inlet, near Victoria, in a soft, shell-covered slope next to burrowing anemones (Pachycerianthus).
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab
for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2024-02-23 2:44:54 AM]
The information contained in an
E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section.
This information is scientifically based. E-Fauna BC also acts as a
portal to other sites via deep links. As always, users should refer to
the original sources for complete information. E-Fauna BC is not
responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.