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Lugworm

Arenicola marina (Linnaeus 1758)

Biology

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This lugworm lives in burrows in the sediment at depths of 20-40cm (3). It feeds on organic matter in the sediment by drawing water into the burrow and filtering particles from the current (2). The sexes are separate, and spawning typically occurs in late autumn and winter (3). Males release sperm, which rests in puddles on the sediment surface before being dispersed by the tide (2). Females release eggs into the burrow, where they are fertilised by sperm that is drawn into the burrow with the respiratory current (2). Initially, the larvae develop inside the burrow, they then crawl or swim to the sediment surface where they are dispersed by currents (2). The larvae settle on areas of sand or shingle and live inside mucus tubes attached to the sediment; after a few months these tubes detach, and the young worms drift in the water for a time before burrowing into the sediment (2). Sexual maturity is reached after around 2 years, and spawning occurs once a year. The average life-span of this worm is thought to be around 6 years (2). Although they are relatively safe within their burrows, this species is vulnerable to predation by flatfishes and birds, who crop the tail region of the worm as it deposits casts; the worm usually survives, although the growth rate may subsequently decrease (3).
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Conservation

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No conservation action has been targeted at this species.
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Description

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The presence of this lugworm can be detected by the characteristic signs of one of its U or J-shaped burrows; depressions are formed at the head-end, and a cast of coiled defecated sediment is present at the tail-end (3). This segmented worm has a cylindrical body, which has two distinct regions; the thoracic region bears bristles (known as 'chaetae'), and the last 13 segments also have bushy gills (3). The abdominal region (the tail end), which is thinner than the thoracic region, lacks gills and bristles. The colour of this worm varies greatly; it may be pink, red, brown, black or green (3).
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Habitat

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Found on the middle and lower shore, in sand and muddy sand (2).
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Range

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Common around all coasts of Britain and Ireland. Elsewhere it is known from western Europe, Norway, Iceland, Siberia, Greenland and on the coasts of the western Atlantic (3).
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Status

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Common and widespread (2)
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Threats

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Lugworms provide an important source of food for many species of wading shore birds including the oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) and curlew (Numenius arquata). They are also collected commercially for use as bait in angling (3).
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Brief Summary

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Lugworms eat the sand on the tidal flats. They digest anything edible in the sand. The filtered sand is ejected after going through their intestines. In order to get enough to eat, the animal has to process a lot of sand. It eats 3.5 liters of sand per year. Lugworms live in a U-shaped tunnel. They eat sand from one end of the tunnel, forming a funnel on the surface. Whatever is indigestible is pressed out at the other end of the tunnel. This is where the typical spaghetti piles of sand come from.
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Lugworm

provided by wikipedia EN

The lugworm or sandworm (Arenicola marina) is a large marine worm of the phylum Annelida. Its coiled castings are a familiar sight on a beach at low tide but the animal itself is rarely seen except by those who, from curiosity or to use as fishing bait, dig the worm out of the sand.

In the UK, the lugworm species Arenicola marina is commonly known as the blow lugworm, and rarely exceeds 130 millimetres (5.1 in). There is a second species of UK lugworm Arenicola defodiens commonly called the black lugworm.[2] As well as growing larger than blow lugworm (in line with descriptions for Europe and North America lugworm below) they are generally much darker, often totally black. They can be distinguished by the different wormcasts they produce - Arenicola defodiens makes a spiral cast, while that of Arenicola marina is jumbled.[3]

When fully grown, the lugworm of the coasts of Europe is up to 9 in (23 cm) long and 0.375 in (1 cm) in diameter. Other species on the North American coast range from 3 to 12 in (7.6 to 30.5 cm). The body is like that of any typical annelid: ringed or segmented. Its head end, which is blackish-red and bears no tentacles or bristles, passes into a fatter middle part which is red. This in turn passes into a thinner yellowish-red tail end. The middle part has bristles along its sides and also pairs of feathery gills. There is a well-developed system of blood vessels with red blood rich in the oxygen-carrying pigment, haemoglobin.[4]

Life in a burrow

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Simplified cross-section of a lugworm burrow

A lugworm lives in a U-shaped burrow in sand. The U is made of an L-shaped gallery lined with mucus, from the toe of which a vertical unlined shaft runs up to the surface. This is a head shaft. At the surface the head shaft is marked by a small saucer-shaped depression. The tail shaft, 2 to 3 in (5.1 to 7.6 cm) from it, is marked by a highly coiled cast of sand. The lugworm lies in this burrow with its head at the base of the head shaft, swallowing sand from time to time. This makes the columns of sand drop slightly, so there is a periodic sinking of the sand in the saucer-shaped depression. When it first digs its burrow the lugworm softens the sand in its head shaft by pushing its head up into it with a piston action. After that the sand is kept loose by a current of water driven through the burrow from the hind end by the waves of contraction passing along the worm's body. It weighs 2 to 5 oz (57 to 142 g). Lugworms also have hairs on the outside of their bodies that act as external gills. These can rapidly increase its uptake of oxygen. Lugworm blood has a large oxygen carrying capacity which may have medical applications.[5]

Lugworm cast
Lugworms are not typically visible, but the casts produced by their burrowing make distinctive patterns in damp sand

Burrowing larvae

Once it burrows into the sand a lugworm seldom leaves it. It can stay there for weeks on end, sometimes changing its position slightly in the sand. But it may leave the burrow completely and re-enter the sand, making a fresh burrow for breeding but for 2 days in early October there is a genital crisis. This is when all the lugworms liberate their ova and sperms into the water above, and there the ova are fertilized. The ova are enclosed in tongue-shaped masses of jelly about 8 inches long, 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Each mass is anchored at one end. The larvae hatching from the eggs feed on the jelly and eventually break out when they have grown to a dozen segments and are beginning to look like their parents. They burrow into the sand, usually higher up the beach than the adults, and gradually move down the beach as they get older.

In popular culture

A singing lugworm figures in The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland by William Butler Yeats:[6]

But while he passed before a plashy place,

A lug-worm with its grey and muddy mouth

Sang that somewhere to north or west or south

There dwelt a gay, exulting, gentle race

Under the golden or the silver skies

— W.B. Yeats

Cartoonist Piers Baker created a syndicated comic strip called Ollie and Quentin, with a buddy storyline about Ollie, a seagull and Quentin, a lugworm. The strip originated in the UK in 2002, with King Features Syndicate introducing it to international syndication in early 2008. Baker considers the strip "an homage to all the poor lugworms that he used as bait while sea fishing in his youth."

References

  1. ^ World Register of Marine Species
  2. ^ Cadman, P. S.; Nelson-Smith, A. (1993). A New Species of Lugworm, Arenicola defodiens sp. nov. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 73(1): 213-224., available online at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315400032744 [details] Available for editors PDF available [request]
  3. ^ James McNish. "Lugworm poos and the secrets they hold". Natural History Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  4. ^ Marine Species Identification Portal
  5. ^ Boissoneault, Lorraine (31 January 2019). "Lugworm Blood, Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You". Hakai magazine. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  6. ^ Yeats, W.B. The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland

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Lugworm: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

The lugworm or sandworm (Arenicola marina) is a large marine worm of the phylum Annelida. Its coiled castings are a familiar sight on a beach at low tide but the animal itself is rarely seen except by those who, from curiosity or to use as fishing bait, dig the worm out of the sand.

In the UK, the lugworm species Arenicola marina is commonly known as the blow lugworm, and rarely exceeds 130 millimetres (5.1 in). There is a second species of UK lugworm Arenicola defodiens commonly called the black lugworm. As well as growing larger than blow lugworm (in line with descriptions for Europe and North America lugworm below) they are generally much darker, often totally black. They can be distinguished by the different wormcasts they produce - Arenicola defodiens makes a spiral cast, while that of Arenicola marina is jumbled.

When fully grown, the lugworm of the coasts of Europe is up to 9 in (23 cm) long and 0.375 in (1 cm) in diameter. Other species on the North American coast range from 3 to 12 in (7.6 to 30.5 cm). The body is like that of any typical annelid: ringed or segmented. Its head end, which is blackish-red and bears no tentacles or bristles, passes into a fatter middle part which is red. This in turn passes into a thinner yellowish-red tail end. The middle part has bristles along its sides and also pairs of feathery gills. There is a well-developed system of blood vessels with red blood rich in the oxygen-carrying pigment, haemoglobin.

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Additional information

provided by World Register of Marine Species
Disambiguation of the common English name. "Lugworm" may also be used incorrectly as the general English name representing any locally harvested for sale bristleworm in Korea, China, Japan, etc. Consequently, nereidid baitworms such as Perinereis aibuhitensis (q.v.) imported into California strangely are known there as lugworms. Also Asian trade statistics referring to lugworms are not relevant to arenicolid usage elsewhere.
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bibliographic citation
McIntosh, William Carmichel. (1915). Polychaeta, Opheliidae to Ammocharidae. <em>A Monograph of the British Marine Annelids.</em> The Ray Society, London, 3 (1): i-viii, 1-368 (text). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Read, Geoffrey [email]
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Read, Geoffrey [email]

Distribution

provided by World Register of Marine Species
Gulf of St. Lawrence (unspecified region), southern Gaspe waters (Baie des Chaleurs, Gaspe Bay to American, Orphan and Bradelle banks; eastern boundary: eastern Bradelle Valley), downstream part of middle St. Lawrence estuary, lower St. Lawrence estuary, lower North Shore, Prince Edward Island (from the northern tip of Miscou Island, N.B. to Cape Breton Island south of Cheticamp, including the Northumberland Strait and Georges Bay to the Canso Strait causeway); western slope of Newfoundland, including the southern part of the Strait of Belle Isle but excluding the upper 50m in the area southwest of Newfoundland; Cobscook Bay
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McIntosh, William Carmichel. (1915). Polychaeta, Opheliidae to Ammocharidae. <em>A Monograph of the British Marine Annelids.</em> The Ray Society, London, 3 (1): i-viii, 1-368 (text). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Kennedy, Mary [email]
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Kennedy, Mary [email]

Habitat

provided by World Register of Marine Species
intertidal and infralittoral of the Gulf and estuary
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bibliographic citation
McIntosh, William Carmichel. (1915). Polychaeta, Opheliidae to Ammocharidae. <em>A Monograph of the British Marine Annelids.</em> The Ray Society, London, 3 (1): i-viii, 1-368 (text). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
contributor
Kennedy, Mary [email]
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Kennedy, Mary [email]