European fan worm (Sabella spallanzanii)

What to look for

  • Spiral fan of feeding tentacles.
  • Flexible, leathery tube.
  • Fan white/pale fawn/orange/banded red/brown.
  • Tubes up to 40cm long, solitary or in groups.


  • Tubes attached to hard surfaces, artificial structures, rocks, shells & seagrass on soft sediments.
  • Sheltered waters, to 30 m depth.


  • Forms dense colonies consuming vast amounts of food.
  • No known predators in Australia.
  • Fouls aquaculture structures increasing cost for industry.

Current locations 

  • Cockburn Sound, Fremantle, Bunbury, Albany & Esperance WA,
  • Metro Adelaide coast, SA;
  • Port Phillip Bay Vic;
  • Devonport Tas; Eden NSW

What you can do

  • Familiarise yourself with the national best practice management biofouling guidelines.
  • Inspect & clean niche areas & antifoul your vessels regularly.
  • Clean & dry equipment before transporting & using in a different location.
  • Check anchors & other equipment for tangled organisms.

More information

More information on this pest can be found on the National Introduced Marine Pest Information System

Report a sighting

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