On a visit last August, the low tide shore in Swansea Bay was covered with amazing natural sand ripple patterns as far as the eye could see. Amongst the lans and grooves of the beach surface was the tell-tale evidence of the huge population of marine worms living buried in the wet sediments. The worms were most likely to have been the common lug worm (Arenicola marina) which live in u-shaped tubes below the surface with the entrance hole for water and sand food marked by a circular pit and the exit hole for getting rid of waste covered by the worm cast. The worm in the hole sifts through the sand particles for pieces of organic debris to eat and then the digested sand waste is extruded from the burrow in long tubular strands coiled like a walnut whip. There was a great deal of variation in the density of worm casts in different areas; and the colour and texture of the sand varied according to the water content, the shore level, the proportion of mud and organic material, and the direction of the light.

9 Replies to “Lugworms at Swansea Bay (1)”

  1. I have worm phobia since i saw the movie, Squirm, when I was around 14 years. I have not touched a worm since then.😁

  2. I have noticed that. You can see some of the holes from bait digging in the image Lugworms at Swansea bay 3. The diggers were also very active in February when I was there; their workings were so extensive that I thought it was some kind of intertidal archaeological excavation.

  3. I suppose I should dig up a worm and photograph it next time. I only ever see the worm casts. Pickled lugworms sound very unappetising! At A level I remember most the acrid fumes of formalin in which the specimens were preserved. Dog fish in particular were kept in big tanks that smelt very bad. No health and safety considerations in those days.

  4. I really did think that. Lots of intertidal archaeology going on around Gower beaches. Did you know that they are finding preserved human footprints in the peat around the emerging tree stumps on the shore (not on Swansea Bay but further along the Gower peninsula) – they must date from about 7000 years ago?

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