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Scale worm recorded from Lakshadweep

Abstract

During an underwater survey in lagoon of Chetlat island Lakshdweep in 2015 a cryptic, commensalistic scale worm association on the sea cucumber Stichopus chloronotus was observed. This scale worm was identified as Gastrolepidia clavigera Schmarda, 1861 which come under polychaetes (Family:Polynoidae). These are known to inhabit the surface of holothurians in its anterior or posterior ends, and if disturbed crawl into the mouth or cloaca of the sea cucumber. The colour of the scale worm mimics the colour of the host which makes it difficult to be detected. Studies have found that this scale worm species feed on the tissue of the sea cucumber and are resistant to the toxin holothurin which is commonly released by sea cucumbers against predators

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