NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Pick shore group | Pick shore family | Shell polychaetes
Opheliidae Family Opheliidae (opheliid)
Scolecida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Opheliidae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Short-bodied, cigar-shaped, muscular sand burrowers, usually with characteristic longitudinal body grooves, especially ventrally, and with characteristic lateral cirri-like gills above the chaetae. The head is sharply conical, sometimes with a knobbed tip, and the only anterior appendages are retractile lateral nuchal organs. Multiple anal cirri are present. Parapodial lobes are inconspicuous, and the segmentation is poorly defined. Chaetae are capillaries only. The mouth is a ventral slit. Opheliids are deposit feeders, but probably selective in their intake of particulate material. Adult size: Adult Size: Armandia maculata is up to 20 mm in length and slender. Other species are more plump and maggot-like and may be up to 30 mm long.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: Armandia has lateral eyespots. Euzonus has forked branchiae. Travisia is now regarded as more correctly belonging to a different family - Scalibregmatidae. It lacks a ventral body groove and the first chaetiger appears before the mouth.
Quick pick shore species: The rapid-moving, sleek, almost iridescently shiny Armandia maculata (Webster, 1884), with its lateral series of eyespots and gills, is instantly recognisable, and almost ubiquitous in sandy habitats in shallow water. This species is an active wanderer, even becoming free-swimming at night. The much larger, fatter, bad smelling, grey-white coloured scalibregmatid Travisia olens is found on open to semi-protected sand beaches. Euzonus otagoensis Probert, 1976, with forked posterior branchiae, is a smaller and less common beach dweller than Travisia olens, but may be very abundant in localised patches. Further subtidal species occur, as yet little known.
Possible misidentifications: None
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Throughout New Zealand. Intertidal and subtidal sands. From mid-shore intertidally, and subtidal to continental shelf depths.
Abundance: Common.
Taxonomic note: From molecular phylogenic analysis Travisia is now regarded as more correctly belonging to family Scalibregmatidae. From deep water Ammotrypanella arctica McIntosh, 1879, Kesun abyssorum Kirkegaard, 1956, Ophelina aulogastrella Hartman & Fauchald, 1971, O. breviata (Ehlers, 1913) have New Zealand region records.
References: (Benham 1950: p22-23, f7), (Dauvin & Bellan 1994: p169-184), (Kirkegaard, 1956: p71 f10), (Kirkegaard, 1996:69-70), (Probert 1976: p375-379, f1).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: None for this family.
Sand Species: Armandia maculata | Euzonus otagoensis
Shell Species: None for this family.

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Last modified by G. Read, 25/07/2004    (dd/mm/yy)