Polychaetes

Several families of polychaete worms include holoplanktonic species, the most conspicuous being the family Tomopteridae. The genus Tomopteris (Figure 2.14e) occurs throughout the oceans. The majority of benthic annelids start life as planktonic larvae, and some also have adult pelagic phases, usually associated with mass spawning. A well-known example is the Pacific palolo worm. For just the few days of the full moon in October and November, the egg and sperm-filled hind ends of these normally benthic worms, break off and join the surface plankton.

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