Marphysa corallina (Kinberg, 1865)

Common, Pseudocosmopolitan?
Type region Honolulu, Oahu.

Body colour: light – medium brown. Anterior part of worm is rounded and becomes dorso-ventrally flattened from middle to posterior end. Prostomium bilobed with five antenna that have white tips. Two reniform eye spots on prostomium below the second antenna from the left and right. Branchiae start from the 20th – 40th chaetiger, as single filaments in anterior chaetigers and reach up to a maximum of eight filaments in posterior chaetigers. Jaws consists of five maxillary plates with different numbers of teeth on each as follows: Max I: 1 +1, II: 3 + 3, III: 5, IV: (L) 4 (R) 6 and V: 1+1. Chaetae consists of acicula with blunt ends, acicula chaetae with bidentate tips with guards, bidentate falcigers with guards, winged capillaries, symmetrical and asymmetrical comb chaetae with fine teeth (+-12 teeth).

In KwaZulu-Natal worms found in mucous-sand tubes in sediment under algal mats, under worm rock and bait rock on the lower intertidal zone of the rocky shores. Worms also found at Witsand under rocks at the mid-intertidal zone. In type region found in the port of Honolulu between dead coral (Kinberg, 1865).

South Africa: Mabibi in northern KwaZulu-Natal to Mgazana in the Eastern Cape. A localised population also found at Witsand on the south coast.
Mozambique, Madagascar, New Zealand, Red sea, Australia, Marshall Islands, Lakshadweep Island and Juluit Atoll.

In South Africa, this species is used as a bait worm and considered ‘cosmopolitan’ by Day (1967) due to its apparent widespread distribution around the tropics. Due to its’ widespread distribution and the fact that many other Marphysa species are known to be part of cryptic species complexes, it was hypothesised that this species too could represent a local indigenous representative of a global Marphysa complex. Thus, the taxonomy and genetics of this species in South Africa is currently under investigation.

Cited as: Kara, J. and Simon, C.A. (2019). Marphysa corallina (Kinberg, 1865), modified May 2019, (, Accessed on <day/month/year>)