HKBU biologists discover and name new fireworm species in Hong Kong waters
A group of biologists from HKBU have discovered a new fireworm species in Hong Kong waters and named it Chloeia bimaculata. It is the fourth named species to be added to the fireworm genus Chloeia during the last century. The team also identified Chloeia parva as the fireworm species that caused the outbreak in Hong Kong last year. The discovery shows how little people know about the biodiversity of this group of animals.
Fireworms are common in tropical and subtropical shallow-water ecosystems. They are members of the polychaete worm family Amphinomidae. “Poly” in the word polychaete means “many”, while “chaete” means “hairs” or “bristles”. Each body segment of a fireworm has a pair of fleshy outgrowths that bear many chaetae. These chaetae contain neurotoxins that can produce a painful burning sensation around the area of contact with human skin.