Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database

Ficopomatus enigmaticus

Common name(s):
serpulid tubeworm
Image courtesy of Ruiz laboratory.

Chesapeake Bay Status:

First Record
Regular Resident

Source Region
Native Region
Unknown-Marine Unknown-Marine

Vector(s) of Introduction
Shipping(Ballast Water,Fouling Community), Fisheries(Oysters-accidental)

History of Spread:

The place of origin of the tubeworm Ficopomatus enigmaticus remains unclear. It has been speculated that it came from a subtropical to temperate area such as southern Australia. Most authors rule out Fauvel's (Fauvel 1923) hypothesized Indian/Indonesian origin, but no one knows for certain. It first appeared more or less simultaneously in Australia, CA, Spain, France (Fauvel 1923); England in the the 1920's, and since has been recorded in most major harbors in northern Europe and the Mediterranean, New Zealand (Read and Gordon 1921), South America (Obenat and Pezzani 1991), South Africa, Hawaii and Japan (Ten Hove and van Weedenburg 1978 , Asakura 1992). It has been suggested that it was brought to Europe in ships during World War I (ten Hove and Weerdenburg 1978).

Ficopomatus enigmaticus first appeared in North America in 1921 in Lake Merritt, a lagoon of San Francisco Bay, and has since spread to many locations in that Bay (Carlton 1979). This worm may have been found on a boat at Corpus Christi TX in 1951 (Hartman 1952), and has been since found in the same locality on riprap by Andrew Cohen in TX in 1995 (McCann and Carlton in prep.). It occurs in several Gulf Coast bays from Tampa Bay (FL) to Corphus Christi (Ruiz et al., unpublished data; U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2007). On the Atlantic Coast of the United States, it was found on settling plates in Barnegat Bay in 1976 (Hoagland and Turner 1980) and appears to be established there, although at low densities (Shafto and Loveland 1984). In 1979, it was collected on the FL Atlantic Coast, in the Banana River, Indian River Lagoon (Fofonoff, unpublished data). Ficopomatus enigmaticus has also been collected in the East River, Brunswick GA (USGS Nonindigenous Species Program 2007), and Charleston Harbor (Ruiz et al. unpublished data) In the fall of 1994, F. enigmaticus was found on settling plates in Scott Creek and Norfolk Harbor, Norfolk VA. In 1995, it was also found in Baltimore and the Severn River (McCann et al. in prep.; Ruiz et al. unpublished data). History References - Carlton 1979; Fauvel 1923; Hartman 1952; Hoagland and Turner; 1980; McCann et al in prep.; Obenat and Pezzani 1991; Read and Gordon 1991; Ruiz et al. unpublished data; Shafto and Loveland 1984; ten Hove and Weerdenburg 1978; Zibrowius 1992

Invasion Comments:

This data was last modified on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014.
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