Press Releases

HKBU biologists discover and name new fireworm species in Hong Kong waters


Professor Qiu Jianwen (second from right) and his team members Research Assistant Wang Zhi (second from left), Senior Research Assistant Zhang Yanjie (left) and Xie Yang discovered and named the new fireworm species.

Chloeia bimaculata, the new fireworm species named by the HKBU team.

Chloeia parva, the fireworm species behind the recent outbreaks in Hong Kong.

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. 

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