Odontosyllis phosphorea is prey to many deposit-feeding organisms and is most at risk during its reproduction cycle when it is in open water. During their reproduction period, O. phosphorea is away from the protection provided by its silky cocoon. This leaves the organism virtually defenseless and vulnerable to predators. Predators of O. phosphorea range from fish to sea horses to crabs to birds.

Fish and birds are the main predators during the reproduction cycle when O. phosphorea is in open water. For the duration of the cycle, the organism is in an optimal position for birds (such as Bucephala albeola) flying above the water to dive in the water and consume theOdontosyllis phosphorea are vonerable to ducks during their bioluminescent mating ritual. glowing worm. Also, fish and sea horses (such as Hippocampus kelloggi) swimming nearby can consume the organism with ease due to the relative size difference of the two organisms. A defense mechanism implemented by O. phosphorea to prevent predators from attacking them at the end of their reproduction cycle is the ability of females to detach their bioluminescent tails. The glowing tail will then act as a decoy to deter predators away from the organisms, as O. phosphorea is able to retreat back to its silky cocoon.

Figure 1. Odontosyllis phosphorea are vulnerable to ducks during their bioluminescent mating ritual.

Predator of Odontosyllis phosphorea, crabs.Crabs are also a predator to O. phosphorea in the benthic zone, where  the organism lives. To protect themselves, O. phosphorea is able to weave cocoons out of silk. The parapodia are also another defense mechanism used by O. phosphorea to prevent predators, mainly crabs, from consuming them.   

Figure 2. Predator of Odontosyllis phosphorea, crabs.


 Besides the fact that Odontosyllis phosphorea is a carnivorous worm, there is not a lot of information on the specific diet of the organism. Some of O. phosphorea main prey consists of algae, bacteria, microfauna, and meiofauna. Through the close interaction between its visual sensory system and its appendages, O. phosphorea is able to quickly bite down on its prey, swallowing it whole. This process is accomplished by using the organisms’ neurosensory cirri to probe its prey while at the same time moving its foregut forward and everting the opening to its pharynx to allow consumption (Fischer and Fischer, 1995).

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