Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 103–113 | Cite as

Underwater observations of the giant spoon worm Ikeda taenioides (Annelida: Echiura: Ikedidae) in a subtidal soft-bottom environment in northeastern Japan, which survived tsunamis of the 2011 off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake

  • Ryutaro Goto
  • Shingo Sakamoto
  • Jun Hayakawa
  • Koji Seike
Special Section: Original Article Oceanographic observations after the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku


Tsunamis associated with the 2011 off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake seriously disrupted the shallow marine ecosystem along a 2000 km stretch of the Pacific coast of Japan. The effects of the 2011 tsunamis on the soft-bottom benthic community have been relatively well studied in the intertidal zone, whereas tsunami effects on the subtidal benthos remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated populations of the world’s largest spoon worm Ikeda taenioides (Annelida: Echiura: Ikedidae) in subtidal zone of Funakoshi Bay, Tohoku District, northeastern Japan. Subtidal scuba-diving surveys at two sites in the bay showed extremely long proboscises frequently extending from small holes in the sandy seafloor shortly before and soon after the tsunami disturbances. Based on morphological and molecular identification, the proboscises were revealed to be parts of I. taenioides. On 30 November 2011, 265 days after the tsunami event, many large-sized individuals with >1 m long proboscises were observed; these individuals were probably not derived from post-tsunami larval recruitment but more likely survived the tsunami disturbances. This is surprising because other sympatric megabenthos (e.g. spatangoid echinoids and venerid bivalves) and seagrass beds were almost completely destroyed (although they later recovered) by the tsunamis in this bay. The burrows of I. taenioides are known to be very deep (70–90 cm), which may have sheltered them from the impacts of the tsunamis. Our observations suggest that the effects of the 2011 tsunamis on benthos in soft sediments may differ depending on their burrowing depth.


Bioturbation Burrow Echiura Ikeda Ikedidae Tsunami Scuba diving Soft-sediment bottom Subtidal zone 



We thank K. Shirai, Y. Kogure, and K. Fukuda (University of Tokyo) for assisting with the underwater observations; M. Nakaoka (Hokkaido University) for the information of Ikeda taenioides in Funakoshi Bay; M. Kurosawa, M. Hirano, A. Yaguchi, K. Morita, and all members of International Coastal Research Center, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo for help with field sampling; Y. Hamamura (Hiroshima Prefecture) for providing the specimens of I. taenioides; G. Kobayashi (University of Tokyo) for the comments on the early version of this manuscript; A. Tsuda (University of Tokyo), J. Ishizaka (Nagoya University) and two anonymous referees for their comments that improve this manuscript. This study was conducted as Monitoring Sites 1000 Project of the Ministry of Environment, Japan. This study was financially supported by the Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates to RG, and by Tohoku Ecosystem-Associated Marine Sciences (TEAMS) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryutaro Goto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shingo Sakamoto
    • 1
  • Jun Hayakawa
    • 1
  • Koji Seike
    • 1
  1. 1.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  2. 2.Museum of Zoology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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