Wild Harris


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These are present in huge numbers on muddy or fine sandy shores. They are also common on the seabed below the tidal limit. Each lugworm lives in a U shaped tube. Although it is unlikely you will see a lugworm without digging it up, it is very easy to see both ends of its tube. The lugworm feeds by eating the mud or sand. As it does so sand sinks into its tube, creating a small depression in the ground. When it has digested the microscopic food particles, it squirts the cleaned sand out of the other end of the tube, a bit like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. This creates the characteristic worm casts that you see all over sheltered shores where lugworms live. When you find a worm cast, look for the small crater in the sand which marks the feeding end of the tube - the worm itself lies buried between these 2 points.

 lugworm cast and hole.jpgLugworm Cast & Hole    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Both ends of the lugworm's U-shaped tube. Water is drawn in through the hole on the right; sand that has passed through the lugworm's digestive system is expelled on the left. Although you will occasionally see a worm cast being squirted out at low tide, most worm action occurs when covered with water. The worm will raise its back end to the surface to eject the waste material. Plaice and flounders move into these areas when the tide is in, and will bite off the protruding rear end of the worm (which will regrow), giving a whole new meaning to the phrase 'bottom' feeding!

 muddy beach northton.jpgNorthton Beach    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Lugworm city - the sheltered beach at Northton provides an ideal habitat for thousands of lugworms to grow

by Paul Tyler

Link to Sand and Mud Shore Animals

Link to Soft Seabed Animals