Worm Reef


 Price for original: $600


Price for 8"x10" print: $20


Price for 12"x17" print: $40


Along Florida’s southern coasts are a series of reefs that look like giant honeycombs.  These are created by colonies of Phragmatopoma lapidosa (also known as Phragmatopoma caudata), worms that build the tubes of the honeycomb by cementing together bits of sand and debris.  Unlike corals, which require crystal clear waters, Phragmatopoma worms prefer to construct their reefs in turbulent water with lots of suspended plankton that they catch and eat at night with bristly fans on their heads.

Since most of southern Florida’s coast is sandy, these reefs provide near-shore refuge for marine plants and animals that need rocky spaces to grow on or hide in.


        The animals and seaweeds shown here are:

        White Scroll Algae (Padina jamaicensis)—which forms the border along the bottom

        Green Feather Algae (Caulerpa sertulariodes)

        Green Grape Algae (Caulerpa prolifera)

        Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

        Common Snook (Centropomus undecimalis)

        Slippery Dick Wrasse (Halichoeres bivittatus)

        Cocoa Damselfish (Stegastes variabilis)—the brown fish on the far left.  The blue and yellow    fish next to it is a juvenile.


        Hairy Blenny (Labrisomus nuchipinnis)

        Blue-head Wrasse (Thalassoma bifasticiatum)

        Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus)

        Doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus)


 The rock formation at the top of the drawing is an outcropping of Anastasia limestone, which underlies most of the Florida peninsula, though it’s only visible on the surface in a few places.


To document the kinds of animals and plants living on the worm reefs, I went SCUBA diving with a slate and a pencil at Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island at the mouth of the Indian River Lagoon. It wasn’t easy making notes and sketches underwater, especially since I forgot a pencil sharpener and had to use my dive knife instead.


Most of the information about the worm reefs and the animals that inhabit them came from these two website:


Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative



        Florida Oceanographic Society





Worm Reef ©2010 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved