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  Straits Times 8 Sep 07
Native species: Eunice grubei (Polychaetes)
Wilson Chan, Project Officer, Biodiversity Centre, NParks.

Species: Scientists estimate that millions of plant and animal species remain unknown, especially in this region. Vast numbers are constantly being discovered. The National Parks Board and the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research reveal what they have uncovered here.

ON THE muddy shores around Singapore, from Changi and Pasir Ris to Mandai, Kranji and Berlayar Creek, the silent squirming of Singapore's reef worms often goes unnoticed. But there is much to be learnt from them.

Recently, enthusiasts from NParks unearthed at least 10 marine worms never before recorded here. While they are often overlooked by nature lovers on coral reef walks, the reef worms are often abundant and, under a microscope, can be a sight to behold.

Even the most common species are quite spectacular.

The Eunice Grubei, for instance, has blue eyes, a red body, five-ringed antennae and a white 'collar', making it an interesting subject for microphotography. The Eunice grubei is a lesser-known relative of the conspicuous giant reef worm - the Eunice aphroditois, and is one of three common Eunice species that inhabit coral reefs and rocky shores here.

The species is found in the Indo-west Pacific which spans the entire Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea and the Pacific Ocean as far as the Caroline Islands.

It is known for its excellent eyesight, and often retracts into its burrow at the slightest sign of danger. It seems to feed mainly on the algae mats on the rock surfaces, but it can turn into a predator or scavenger if the opportunity arises.


Related articles on Singapore: biodiversity

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