Booth's Pipefish (Halicampus boothae) I posted a couple of photographs of a Booth’s Pipefish on iNaturalist today and on either side of it are what looks like deliberately made structures, almost like a bower of some kind. Until a couple of days ago there were two pipefish at this spot, but yesterday there was just the one. I am wondering if the pipefish built these, if this is anything to do with courtship, and whether anyone else has seen this kind of thing before. Sadly the photos aren’t brilliant, but you can see what I mean in them. I’d love people’s thoughts.


Brilliant find. These look like polychaete tubes. A number of polychaete groups construct elaborate tubes – some are “messy” and incorporate bits and pieces of different sizes, while others are almost tile-like and use particles that are similar in shape and size. In groups which create tubes similar to these, worms produce mucus and use long appendages (eg. tentacles or palps) to select particles, which can then be transported down the length of the body to build (or add to) the tube. If you visit the spot again, it would be great to see photos showing the worms themselves – this would be very useful for ID.

Some familiar examples of tube-building worms include sandcastle/honeycomb worms, ice cream cone/trumpet worms, spiral tube worms and feather duster/fanworms. Polychaetes are everywhere and their diversity is quite staggering, but like many other marine inverts, they’re often overlooked.


Thanks for that. So the pipefish is just settled in between a row of them. )You can see (just) in the view from the surface that there are a few of these tubes in a couple of rows.) Interesting!

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