Ophelia bicornis (Savigny, 1820)

Ophelia bicornis image

Synonyms: None.

Common names: None.

Order (Scientific): DRILOMORPHA.

Family (Scientific): OPHELIIDAE.

Taxonomic descriptions: Prostomium small conical. Anterior part of the body is expanded. Abdomen with a ventral grove beginning on the tenth segment; it has 32 segments. The tenth anterior segment and the seventh posterior segment without branchiae. The last segments have long setae. Two big anal papillae and 10-15 smaller size. Size: length: 30-45 mm.

Ophelia bicornis arealIUCN Status:
    World level:
    Black Sea Regional level: EN
    Subregion level: EN (Ukrainian sector)

Distribution: Black Sea sandy bottom shallow water areas. It is a boreal form, inhabiting the Black Sea, English Channel, North Sea, Chesapeake Bay.

Habitat type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: Sandy bottom mediolittoral. Limiting factors are the pollution of the sand at the sea’s edge, man-made changes in the granulometric composition of the sand and trampling.

Biology: A typical contourobiont inhabiting almost exclusively the sandy bottom mediolittoral (pseudolitoral). Its preferred habitat is coarse sand free of mud. It burrows headfirst into the sand its belly and side grooves forming a channel for respiratory currents.

Population trends: A sharp decline in population numbers since the 1980s. A reduction of 70-80% over the last 10 years was established by direct observations.

Threats: Pollution of the mediolittoral stripe, changes in the granulometric composition of the sand, silting and trampling in recreational areas.

Conservation measures taken: No.

Conservation measures proposed: Entry in the Black Sea Red Data Book.


  1. Bacescu M., Muller G.I., Gomoiu M-T., 1971 - Ecologie marina (Marine Ecology), 4:1-259.
  2. Bacescu M. Gomoiu M-T, Dumitrescu E.,1968 - Quelques considerations sur la dinamique des organismes de la zone mediolittoral sableaux en Mer Noire. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Medit, 10, 2, 117-119.
  3. Gomoiu M-T., 1969 - Some aspects of the Black Sea benthos, Hidrobiologia, 10, 256-277.
  4. Mokievsky, O., 1949. Fauna rykhlikh gruntov litoraly zapadnykh beregov Kryma (Fauna of soft bottoms in the western Crimean littoral). Trudy Instituta Okeanologyi, 4, p. 124-159 (in Russian).
  5. Vinogradov, K.A., Losovskaya, G.V., 1968. Klass mnogoshetinkovye chervi - Polychaeta (Polychaeta worms in the Black Sea). In: Opredelitel’ fauny Chernogo i Azovskogo morey (A key to Black Sea and Sea of Azov fauna). Kiev: Naukova dumka, I, p. 251-359, (in Russian).
  6. Marinov, T., 1977. Mnogochetinesty chervy (Polychaeta). In: Fauna na Bulgaria (Fauna of Bulgaria), 6, pp. 258, (in Bulgarian).

Compiled by: C.Dumitrache, Yu.P.Zaitsev.