a1 Stazione Zoologica ‘Anton Dohrn’, Laboratory of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, Villa Comunale, Napoli, Italy
a2 Department of Marine Biology, Texas A & M University at Galveston, Texas, USA
a3 ISPRA, via di Casalotti, Roma, Italy
The siboglinid tubeworm, Lamellibrachia sp. (Annelida: Vestimentifera) has recently been described and reported from various sites in the eastern basin and in a single site in the western basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Here we report a further record of Lamellibrachia sp. in the western Mediterranean, where these giant worms were sampled—by the grabbers of a working class ROV—from the shipwreck of the liner ‘Catania’, sunk in 1917 at 490 m depth off the coast of Cetraro (Calabria, southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). Twenty-seven entire tubes were collected ranging from 23 to 60 cm in length and from 0.6 to 13 mm in diameter. Clear annulations were present near the tube openings. Only two of the tubes contained specimens of Lamellibrachia, both lacking most of the posterior portion (including the opisthosoma); the obturaculum was 13 mm long in both specimens; three sheath lamellae and eight branchial lamellae occurred in one specimen, and six and 14 in the other. DNA analysis through COI sequencing suggests a close similarity with specimens collected in the eastern Mediterranean (GenBank EU046616) and belonging to a new species recently described. It needs still to be clarified which type of energy source the obligate symbiotic bacteria of these worms may use for nutrition, since no sulphur emissions can be documented on and around the shipwreck. The ‘Catania’ contained some wooden structures and was transporting cotton balls and oil seeds, so the symbiotic bacteria may rely on degradation of these materials. This record stresses the importance of shipwreck as a possible stepping stone habitat for the large scale dispersion of Vestimentifera.
(Received August 16 2010)
(Accepted January 24 2011)
(Online publication April 01 2011)