Gulf Of Maine

Sea Life & Aquarium Substrates

Sea life from the Northern Atlantic Ocean. 50 degree F salt water species. Gulf of Maine Inc. supplies sea life, beach plants, and aquarium substrates from Maine, collected by hand.

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Lugworm (Arenicola cristata)

Lugworm (Arenicola cristata)

from 16.00

Common name: lugworm    

Scientific name:  Arenicola cristata

Locations: mid-low tide in sandy mud flats

Seasonality:  available all year

Colors:  range in color from dark black/brown to light tan

Size:  3”  - 6”

Collected:  by hand, digging fork

Quantity:  sold by the each

per pack:
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A variety of lugworms.

A variety of lugworms.

Tidepool Tim says,  "Lugworms are a challenging worm to find and to dig up!  For years my success rate was about 30%...I'd dig and dig and dig and maybe get a dozen worms for a few hours work.  Finally, by half luck and half experience, I realized how to approach them. Lugworms live in a tube-shaped burrow and so there are two ends to their mud-encased homes. 

At the tail end, there is a distinctive pile of their poop (castings).  The Sheehan kids and I call this the 'volcano' - it literally looks like a small volcano.  At the other end (this was the challenge to recognize) is the 'swimming pool'. At this end, there is actually a small puddle of water. I think that the lugworm somehow creates this depression in the mud.  In this way, when the tide recedes, the anterior end of the worm still has a bit of seawater in this puddle from which to extract oxygen maybe?

So long story short; once I realized that the worm could be found in a straight line between the volcano and the swimming pool - the rest was history!  Viola!  Now I can dig lugworms with at least a 95% success rate.  Occasionally I still find no worm or worse -  cut one in half with my digger.  Either way, it's much improved. 

Anatomically lugworms have a neat anterior end with exterior gills, bristly setae (to hold them in their burrows) and a sacrificial posterior end.  On this end of the worm, I noticed that the segments are able to quickly fracture and leave a chunk of worm writhing in the sand.  To me this appears to be a distracting motion - perhaps to allow seagulls or crabs to grab the end of the worm and not sacrifice the worm itself - pretty cool really!  Lugworms are the largest worm we offer - sometimes they are thicker than my thumb - pretty impressive.”