Sand Mason Worms (Lanice conchilega)

Sand Mason Worms (Lanice conchilega) in Filey Bay

A multitude of sand mason worms (Lanice conchilega) carpet large parts of Filey Bay and some can be seen at low tides . The tubes are about 4 to 5cm in height, made up of coarse sand grains and any bits of hard material that is available. The worm that made them can be as long as 30cm and lives below in a burrow. As the tide comes in it will come out to feed, using a mass of tentacles to entrap bits of food including small animals and waste material.

These colonies of sand mason worms have a vital role to play in keeping the beach clean. They are an important food source for the baby plaice that live in Filey Bay. The plaice, which are about the size of postage stamps, browse the tentacles of the sand mason worm, which will regrow.

The author was once involved in a ‘clean the beaches’ campaign when the campaigners were approached by a firm specialising in beach cleaning machinery. They were very proud of their new model which would strip the sand to a considerable depth, filter it, clean it of all organic material and then disinfect it before it was spewed out at the rear of the machine. The sand mason worm, along with a multitude of other small creatures living in the sand, doesn’t need such ‘help’ and makes a  pretty good job of mopping up. They also offer a ‘fast food’ service to our local fish.

Body of Sand Mason Worm Author - Matthias Buschmann (User:M.Buschmann) Wikipedia commons

Body of Sand Mason Worm Author - Matthias Buschmann (User:M.Buschmann) Wikipedia commons

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