The Bearded Fireworm is commonly found in the waters of Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. These worms inhabit the crevices, rocks and rubble of the reef but can also be seen foraging for food in the open ocean. They have long, numerous bristles along their sides and tufts of gill filaments on each side of their bristled segments.
Don’t let its bright visual appearance or beauty fool you: the bristles of this colorful segmented worm can break off when touched or disturbed, causing painful burning, swelling and an agonizing wound.
This beautiful fireworm was crawling out of a reef recess during an afternoon dive in Bonaire, and our presence did not seem to effect him as we hovered over the reef taking photos. We knew better than to touch this worm, however, even though he seemed to beckon us to do so.