Lug worm casts on the beach: Thousands of huge lug-worm casts (probably from the marine worm Arenicola marina Linnaeus), looking like a vast field of walnut whips, stretching as far as the eye can see at Whiteford Point, Gower, South Wales (1)

Lug-worm casts  extending like a vast field of walnut whips as far as the eye can see at Whiteford Point, Gower in South Wales. These casts are made by the marine worm Arenicola marina Linnaeus.

Lug Worm blow hole and cast: Blow hole and spiral cast of the marine polychaete Blow Lug or Lug Worm, most probably Arenicola marina Linnaeus, on the shore at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales (2)

Blow hole and spiral cast of the Blow Lug or Lug Worm – each representing opposite ends of the U-shaped tube occupied by the worm in the sand.

Blow hole of the marine polychaete Lug Worm Arenicola marina Linnaeus in the shore sediments at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales (3)

Blow hole of the Lug Worm in sediments of Whiteford Sands in Gower. The head end of the worm lies beneath this hole and the worm eats the sand in order to get nutrients from the detritus and micro-organisms that it contains.

The spiral worm cast of excreted sediments from the marine polychaete Arenicola marina Linnaeus, the Blow Lug or Lug Worm, at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales (4)

The tail end of the worm lies beneath the spiral worm cast that is composed of the excreted sediments after they have passed through the worm’s gut.

In the picture below you can see from the widely spaced distribution of blow holes and worm casts that Lug Worms on the beach at Whiteford Sands are not so abundant as at Whiteford Point (illustrated at the top of this post)because the sediments are drier, more sandy, less muddy, and therefore with a smaller organic component.

Lug Worm holes and casts on the sand: The widely spaced casts and blow holes of Lug Worms, Arenicola marina Linnaeus, on the drier and sandier shore of Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales in marked contrast to the intense colonisation of wetter and muddier shore sediments by Whiteford Point (5)

Hidden from view, of course, are the burrows themselves. These can only be truly observed in a laboratory observation using a glass-sided tank. As we saw yesterday (post of 9 July 2011), these or similar worms and their burrows have been around for millions of years as evidenced by trace fossils such as those found in the Jurassic Arenicolites Beds at Ringstead on the Jurassic Coast.

For more pictures showing the living Lug Worm itself, and video clips of Lug Worms click here for the ARKive web site.

Revision of a post first published 1 May 2009

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

All Rights Reserved

12 Replies to “Lug Worms at Whiteford Sands”

  1. Beautiful pictures – love that last one. Can hardly wait to get back to Whiteford again but it’ll probably be next year before I get the chance to. Excellent post.

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  2. Great photos and information! I was recently wandering along the east coast of Scotland and found some piles of casts like the ones in your photos, but did not see any blow holes near them. Do you have any idea why that might be?

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  3. Thanks, Janet. I think that possibly if the substrate into which the worms were burrowing was very wet, fine or fluid, then the blow hole might close up easily and therefore only be apparent to the observer periodically. When the substrate is drier, then the hole remains open.

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  4. That is the only thing I can think of to explain it. Maybe the castings drained off and became slightly drier in the air and that preserved their shape better.

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  5. Hi Jessica, found this blog post while hunting for photos worm casts after I found so many at Minehead on my coastal walk. Glad to see I’m not the only one fascinated by their hieroglyphic shapes.

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