What is this salt-water worm?

What is this salt-water worm?

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We found this near Fort Pheonix in Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. It gets long when its swimming (About 8 inches) and contracts when disturbed (2 inches).

Its head is shaped a bit like a diamond (like a cobra?). Its body looks fairly translucent and is ribbon-shaped.

Here's a short video:

It is possibly a milky ribbon worm (Cerebratulus lacteus).


They can be found anywhere and everywhere along the Atlantic coastline in healthy abundance -

The phrase 'marine life' refers to organisms that live in salt water. These can include a diverse array of plants, animals and microbes (tiny organisms) such as bacteria and archaea.

From the perspective of a land animal like us, the ocean can be a harsh environment. However, marine life are adapted to live in the ocean. Characteristics that help marine life thrive in a saltwater environment include the ability to regulate their salt intake or deal with large quantities of salt water, adaptations to obtain oxygen (e.g., a fish's gills), being able to withstand high water pressures, living in a place where they can get enough light, or being able to adjust to a lack of light. Animals and plants that live on the edge of the ocean, such as tide pool animals and plants, also need to deal with extremes in water temperature, sunlight, wind and waves.

Tapeworms (Cestodes)

Diphyllobothrium latum

Diphyllobothrium latum , or fish tapeworm, is one of the pseudophyllidean cestodes transmitted via aquatic species. 5 Human infection with D. latum is acquired by eating uncooked freshwater fish containing the parasite's plerocercoid cysts. Some traditional modes of infection include consumption of dried or smoked fish, which may contain viable cysts if not further cooked, or tasting flavored freshwater fish (e.g., gefilte fish) before cooking. The enthusiasm for “raw bar” foods such as ceviche, sushi, and sashimi prepared from freshwater fish, especially salmon, has increased the transmission potential for D. latum in developed areas of North America. 9,10 Areas of the world in which D. latum is highly endemic (>2% prevalence) include specific lake and delta areas of Siberia, Europe (especially Scandinavia and other Baltic countries), North America, Japan, and Chile. In 2006, there was an outbreak in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, caused by freshly caught raw perch served at a wedding. 11 Endemicity in rural areas is favored by stable zoonotic transmission through alternative nonhuman definitive hosts, including seals, cats, bears, minks, foxes, and wolves.

Human D. latum tapeworms are large, reaching up to 25 m (3000 to 4000 proglottids) in length. It takes 3 to 6 weeks after exposure for the tapeworm to mature. Once established, a D. latum parasite may survive 30 years or more. Multiple tapeworms in the same patient are common. Normally, infection is asymptomatic, but a proportion of infected individuals report nonspecific symptoms of weakness (66%), dizziness (53%), salt craving (62%), diarrhea (22%), and intermittent abdominal discomfort. 5

Prolonged (more than 3 or 4 years) or heavy D. latum infection may lead to megaloblastic anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. The vitamin B12 deficiency is a consequence of two factors: parasite-mediated dissociation of the vitamin B12 intrinsic factor complex in the gut lumen (making vitamin B12 unavailable to the host) and heavy vitamin uptake and use by the parasite. Megaloblastic anemia may be worsened by concurrent folate deficiency, which also occurs as a consequence of D. latum infection. Vitamin B12 deficiency may be sufficiently severe to cause injury to the nervous system, including peripheral neuropathy and severe combined degeneration of the central nervous system (CNS).

For diagnosis, tapeworm infection may first be suspected based on the patient's history or when contrast studies of the intestine show an intraluminal, ribbon-like filling defect. Definitive diagnosis of D. latum infection is made by detection of 45 × 65-mm operculated parasite eggs on stool examination ( Fig. 291-3A and B ). Recovery of proglottids (with a characteristic central uterus) also establishes the diagnosis.

Treatment is with a single course of niclosamide or praziquantel (see “Therapy”). 12 Mild vitamin B12 deficiency is reversed by eradicating the tapeworm. Severe vitamin B12 deficiency should be treated with parenteral vitamin injections. If a patient presents with B12 deficiency and epidemiologic risk factors for fish tapeworm infection, one should maintain a high index of suspicion for possible infection.


Cercarial dermatitis (&ldquoswimmer&rsquos itch&rdquo, &ldquoclam-digger&rsquos itch&rdquo, &ldquoduck itch&rdquo) is caused by the cercariae of certain species of schistosomes whose normal hosts are birds and mammals other than humans. These cercariae seem to have a chemotrophic reaction to secretions from the skin and are not as host-specific as other types of human-infecting schistosomes. Skin penetration by these zoonotic cercariae causes dermatitis, but the cercariae do not mature into adults in the human body.

Several genera/species are known to cause cercarial dermatitis the most commonly implicated genus globally is the waterfowl schistosome Trichobilharzia spp. (T. ocellata, T. brevis, T. stagnicolae, T. physellae, T. regenti, and others). Other avian schistosomes that cause cercarial dermatitis include Ornithobilharzia spp., Austrobilharzia spp. (A. ), Bilharziella polonica, and Gigantobilharzia huronensis. Cases involving mammalian schistosomes Heterobilharzia americana, Bivitellobiharzia spp., Schistosomatium spp., and some aberrant zoonotic Schistosoma spp. (S. spindale, S. (=Orientobilharzia) turkestanicum) occur occasionally. These schistosomes all use different snail intermediate hosts, commonly those from the families Nassariidae, Lymnaeidae, and Physidae.

Cercarial dermatitis should not be confused with seabather&rsquos eruption, which is caused by the larval stage of cnidarians (e.g., jellyfish). The areas of skin affected by seabather&rsquos eruption is generally under the garments worn by bathers and swimmers where the organisms are trapped after the person leaves the water. Cercarial dermatitis occurs on the exposed skin outside of close-fitting garments.

Life Cycle

Adult worms are found in the blood vessels of definitive hosts and produce eggs that are passed in the feces On exposure to water, the eggs hatch and liberate a ciliated miracidium that infects a suitable snail (gastropod) intermediate host . The parasite develops in the intermediate host to produce free-swimming cercariae that are released under appropriate conditions and penetrate the skin of the birds and migrate to the blood vessels to complete the cycle . Humans are inadvertent and inappropriate hosts cercariae may penetrate the skin but do not develop further . A number of species of trematodes with dermatitis-producing cercariae have been described from both freshwater and saltwater environments, and exposure to either type of cercaria will sensitize persons to both.


This project is carried out to know the effects of salt water on concrete. Salt water has salinity of about 3.5%. in that, about 78% is sodium chloride and 15% is chloride and sulphate of magnesium. The result gotten from the experiment being carried out shows different result from the mix design, casting, curing and crushing of different dates of each cubes. The compressive strength of each cube was also determined e.g. for the compressive strength of mix design 1.2.2:4 for both salt water and fresh water for different days such 7,14,21,28 days are “for fresh water” 26.0N/mm2, 33.1N/mm2, 3.8.4N/mm2, 4/06N/mm2 “for salt water” for different days such as 7, 14, 21, 28days which results are 25.9N/mm2, 28.3N/mm2, 36.3N/mm2, 38.9N/m. For compressive strength of Design Ratio 𔄙:1:5:3:3” for different days such as 𔄟, 14, 21 and 28 days respectively which are “43.3N/mm2, 47.7N/mm2, 48.4N/mm2, 47.3N/mm2 for fresh water and that of salt water are as follows, 42.1N/mm2, 44.9N/mm2, 46.3N/mm2, 47.26N/mm2. For mix design ratio 𔄙:3:3:5:8” we have their compressive strength to be 16.3N/mm2, 21.8N/mm2, 25.03N/mm2, 29.6N/mm2 for each respective days for fresh water and that of salt water to be 16.2N/mm2, 20.3N/mm2, 23.57N/mm2, 27.6N/mm2, which also helps in the plotting of the graph of compressive strength against the curing days, to determine the strength of each cube.


Concrete is an artificial engineering material made from a mixture of Portland cement, water, fine and course aggregates, and a small amount of air. It is the most widely used construction material in the world.
Concrete is the only major building material that can be delivered to the job site in a plastic state. this unique quality makes concrete desirable as a building material because it can be molded to virtually any form or shape. Concrete provides a wide latitude in surface textures and colours and can be used to construct a wide variety of structures, such as highways, and streets, bridges, dams, barge buildings, airport runways, irrigation structures, breakwaters, piers and docks, sidewalks, soles and farm buildings, homes and even barges and ships.
Other desirable qualities of concrete as a building material are its strength, economy, and durability. Depending on the mixture of material used, concrete will support, in compression, 700 or more kg/sq cm (10,000 or more 1b/sq in). the ensile strength of concrete is much lower, but by using properly designed still reinforcing, structural members can be made that are as strong in tension as they are in compression. The durability of concrete is evidenced by the fact that concrete columns built by the Egyptians more than 3000 years ago are still standing.
There are however, many different types of concrete, the names of some are distinguished by the types, sizes and densities of aggregates e.g. eight weight, normal weight or heavy weight. Concrete are similar in composition to mortar, which are used to bond unit masonry. Mortars however, are normally made with sand as a hole aggregates.
Whereas, concrete contain much larger aggregates and this usually have greater strength. As a result, concrete have a much wider range of structural application, including pavements, footings, pipes, unit majoring, walls, dams and tanks. Because ordinary concrete is much weaker in tension than in compression, it is usually prestressed or reinforced with a much stronger material, such as steel, to resort tension.
There are various methods employed for carting ordering concrete. For very small projects, sacks of prepared mixes may be purchased and mixed on the site with water, usually a drem-type, portable, mechanical mixer.
For large projects, mix ingredient are weighed separately and deposited in a stationary batch mixer or a continuous mixer. Concrete mixed or agitated in a truck is called ready mixed concrete. In general, concrete is placed and consolidation is forms by hand tamping or pudding around reinforcing steel or by spreading at or near vertical surface. Another technique vibration or mechanical pudding, which is the most satisfactory one for achieving proper consolidation.
The two major components of concretes are cement parts and inert materials. The cement parts consists of Portland cement, water, and some air either in the form of naturally entrapped air voids or minute, intentionally entrained air bubbles. The inert materials are usually composed of fire aggregate, which is a material such as sand, and course aggregate, which is a material such as gravel, crushed stone, or slag. In general, fire aggregate particular are smaller than 6.4mm (.25mm) in size, and course aggregates a particles are large than 6.4mm (.025mm). Depending on the thickness of structure to be built, the size is used, when Portland cement is mixed with water, the components of the cement react to form a cementing medium. In properly mixed concrete, each particles of sand and course aggregates is completely surrounded and coated by this paste, and all spaces between the particular are filled with it. As the cement part sets and hardens, it binds the aggregates into a solid mass.
Under normal conditions, concrete grows stronger as it grows older. The chemical reactions between cement and water that cause the parts to harden and bind the aggregates together require time. The reactions take place very rapidly at first and then slowly over a long period of time.

Sea water has a salinity of about 3.5%. in that about 78% is sodium chloride and 15% is chloride and sulphate of magnesium. Sea water also contain small quantities of sodium and potassium salts. This can react with reactive aggregates in the same manner as alkalizes in cement. Therefore, sea water should not be used even for Pcc if aggregates are known to be potentially alkalie reactive. It is reported that the use of sea water for mixing concrete does not appreciately reduce the strength of concrete although it may lead to corrosion of reinforcement in certain cases. Research workers are unanimous in their opinion, that sea water can be used in un-reinforced concrete or mass concrete sea water slightly accelerates the early strength of concrete. But it reduces the 28day strength of concrete by about 10 to 15percent.
However, this loss of strength could be made up by redesigning the mix. Water containing large quantities of chlorides in sea water may cause efflorescence and persistent dampness. When the appearance of concrete is important, sea water may be avoided.
Granite, limestone, sand stone, or basaltic rock are crushed for use principally as concrete aggregate or road stone.
Under normal conditions, concrete grows stronger as it grows older. It is the most widely used material (construction) in the world, because it is the only major building material that can be delivered to the job site in a plastic state.
Concrete can be molded into different form or shape due to its unique quality. Other qualities of concrete as a building material are its strength, durability, and economy, depending on the mixture of material used.
Concrete provides a wide latitude in surface texture and colours and can be used to construct a wide variety of structures, such as highways and street bridges, dams, large buildings, airport runways, irrigation structures, breakwaters, piers and docks, sidewalks, silos and farm buildings, home and even barges and ships.
• Ordinary concrete are much weaker in tension, than in compression.
• Concrete is a bottle material and presses very low tensile strength, limiting ductility and little resistance to cracking
• Internal micro cracks as inherent present in the concrete and its poor tensile strength propagates such micro cracks and eventually leading to bottle failure of concrete.
• Concrete containing micro silica is vulnerable to plastic shrinkage, cracking and therefore, sheet or mat curing should be considered.

The purpose of the study is to know the adverse negative effect the water (salt) may have on concrete.
Water is an important ingredient of concrete as it actively participates in the chemical reaction with cement. Since it helps to form the strength giving cement gal, the quantity and quality of water is required to be looked into very carefully. Sea water has a salinity of about 3.5percent, in that , about 78% is sodium chloride and 15% is chloride and sulphate of magnesium. It is said that the use of salt water (sea) for mixing concrete does not appreciably reduce the strength of concrete through it may lead to corrosion of reinforcement in certain cases. The aim of the experiment is to prove whether or not, if the sea water can reduce the strength of concrete.

A popular yard-stick to the suitability of water for mixing concrete is that, if water is fit for drinking, it is fit for making concrete. This does not appear to be a true statement for all conditions. Some water containing imparities may be suitable for other purpose, but not for the mixture of concrete.
Some specification requires that if the water is not obtained from source that has proven satisfactory, the strength of concrete or mortar made with questionable water should be compared with similar concrete or mortar made with pure water. Sea water has a salinity of about 3.5percent, in that, about 78% is sodium chloride and 15% is chloride and sulphate of magnesium. It is reported that the use of sea water for mixing concrete does not appreciably reduce the strength of concrete although it may lead to corrosion of reinforcement in certain cases.
The purpose of the experiment is to prove the doubt of people whether or not if salt water has an effect on concrete.

 ACCELERATION:- There are substances that speeds up rate of a reaction, for photography, an accelerator speeds the action of a developer. For structural engineering, an accelerator speeds the setting of concrete. In the manufacture of plastics, an accelerator is used to speed up the curing of epoxy and other resion-type plastics.
 GRAVEL:- Gravel, loose material consisting of rock or mineral fragments. Gravel fragments are larger than sand particles and smaller than boulders specifically, gravel particles are larger than 2mm (0.08m) in diameter and smaller than 256mm (10m) in diameter. Gravel is a constituents of concrete, which is used in construction.
Gravel is produced by the weathering and erosion of rocks, strong river currents or glaciers often transport gravel greats distances before it is disposited. Rock fragments in gravel that has been transported by water are worm and rounded, while theso carried by ice usually have sharp angular edges. The rock fragments in gravel transported by rivers also vary in sizeless than those transported by glaciers. Gravels are also found on beaches where there is strong wave actives are very round and smooth.
 SAND:- Sand loose incoherent mass of mineral materials in a finely gramilar condition, usually consisting of quartz (silica) with a small proportion of mica, feldspar, magnetite, and other resistant minerals. It is the product of the chemical and mechanical disintegration of rocks under the influence of weathering and abrasion. When freshly formed, the particles are usually angular and sharply pointed, becoming smaller and more rounded by attrition by the wind or by water.
Quarry and quarrying, open excavation from which any useful stone is extracted for building and engineering purpose and the operations required to obtain rock in useful form from a quarry. The two principal branches of the industry are the so-called dimension-stone and crushed stone quarrying. In the firms, blocks of stones such as marble, are extracted in different shapes and sizes for different purposes. In the crushed-stone industry.

Sea Lamprey Biology

The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is one of 31 species of lamprey found throughout the world and one of four lamprey species found in the Lake Champlain Basin. Lamprey are eel-shaped fish with a skeleton made of cartilage, not bone. They belong to a relic (primitive) group of jawless fishes called Agnathans.

Juvenile parasitic sea lamprey are 6 to 24 inches in length with smooth, scaleless skin that is mottled grey/blue to black, darker on top and fading to a lighter colored belly. Adult sea lamprey, preparing to spawn, are 14 to 24 inches in length and exhibit mottled dark brown/black pigmentation. Sea lamprey have two separated fins on their back (dorsal fins) and suction disk mouth filled with small sharp, rasping teeth and a file-like tongue. The sea lamprey is a jawless parasite that feeds on the body fluids of fish.

Sea lamprey, like many salmon, are "diadromous". They spend the early stages of their life in streams and rivers. The middle stage of their life is spent in the saltwater of the ocean or in a large freshwater lake. Then they return as breeding adults to spawn in the freshwater streams and rivers, and die shortly after spawning. Sea lamprey in Lake Champlain take about six years to complete this life cycle.

Life Cycle - How does it live and breed?


The blind worm-like larval lamprey, known as ammocoetes [am-mah-seats], can grow up to 5 inches long. They hatch from eggs in gravel nests in tributaries and drift downstream with the current. When they locate suitable habitat - usually silt/sand stream bottoms and banks in slower moving stretches of water - they burrow in and take up residence, filter-feeding on algae, detritus and microscopic organisms and materials. In the Lake Champlain Basin this stage of the sea lamprey's life cycle usually lasts 3 to 4 years in other waters lamprey spend up to 10 years in their larval form.


Sometime in mid to late summer of their third or fourth year the ammocoetes undergo a dramatic change in both form and function. They develop eyes and a suction disk mouth, and become a smaller version of the adult sea lamprey. Also during this stage their kidneys change to allow them to live in saltwater. Once the ammocoetes´ change is complete, the newly transformed sea lamprey, known as a transformer, leaves its burrow and moves downstream towards Lake Champlain. The sea lamprey is then ready to begin the next stage in its life as a parasite of fish. The juvenile sea lamprey move into deeper water and begin to seek host fish on which to feed.

Parasitic Juveniles

The juvenile sea lamprey uses its suction disk mouth which is filled with small sharp, rasping teeth and a file-like tongue to attach to fish, puncture the skin, and drain the fish's body fluids. An anticoagulant in their saliva ensures that the blood of the host fish does not clot while the sea lamprey feed. Often the host fish die from loss of blood, or infections resulting from stress. Fish that survive sea lamprey attacks will have decreased reproduction. Sea lamprey in Lake Champlain prefer landlocked Atlantic salmon (salmon), lake trout and other trout species, due to their small scales and thin skin. The same native fish species prized by anglers, and that are such an important part of the natural ecosystem of the lake.

Sea lamprey also feed on other fish species, including lake whitefish, walleye, northern pike, burbot, and lake sturgeon. The lake sturgeon is listed as a threatened species in New York and an endangered species in Vermont and it is likely that sea lamprey are affecting their survival. Most sea lamprey hosts are native fish species that have been part of the Lake Champlain Basin ecosystem for thousands of years


Mortality and Wounding of Host Fish

Studies on the Great Lakes show a 40 to 60 percent mortality rate for fish attacked by sea lamprey. Other studies have found that a single sea lamprey can kill 40 or more pounds of fish during its life. Even when fish survive the attacks, the fish populations will decline as the fish expend more energy on healing than on producing eggs and mating.

During periods when sea lamprey are abundant in Lake Champlain, anglers often catch salmon and trout with wounds or lamprey attached. Frequently these fish have multiple wounds, multiple scars and/or multiple lamprey attached to them. These high wounding rates indicate that sea lamprey are having a significant impact on the lake trout and salmon populations. Angler catches of lake trout and salmon in Lake Champlain were found to be just a fraction of catches in similar lakes, despite intensive stocking efforts by fishery agencies. Sea lamprey were preventing the restoration of these native fish species to Lake Champlain.


In the spring, sexually mature adult sea lamprey migrate up tributaries to spawn. They locate spawning streams by following pheromones (naturally produced chemical attractants) released by ammocoetes living in those waters. A pair of male and female sea lamprey build a nest, called a redd, in a gravel stream bottom in section of flowing water. The female lays tens of thousands of eggs and the male fertilizes them, then having completed this act the sea lamprey die. The eggs lie in the small spaces between the gravel, and are provided oxygen by the flowing water. Weeks later the eggs hatch and the complex life cycle of the sea lamprey begins again.

Sea Lamprey in Lake Champlain

Prior to the 1800s native Atlantic salmon and lake trout were abundant in Lake Champlain. Early explorers and settlers reported salmon runs in the tributaries that were so abundant that "salmon were harvested by the wagon load with pitchforks." While not so graphic, historical accounts of large and plentiful lake trout were reported as well. However, by the mid 1800s over fishing, pollution and damming of tributaries had eliminated native salmon from Lake Champlain, and lake trout disappeared from the lake by 1900.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s numerous attempts were made to restock trout and salmon, but all failed. In the late 1950s and 1960s New York State began experimental stockings of lake trout and salmon with some limited success. It became clear that one of the factors limiting the success of stocking was parasitism by sea lamprey.

A non-native species?

The sea lamprey was first noted in Lake Champlain in 1929 by J.R. Greeley, who reported that sea lamprey were found in moderate numbers at that time. It is not clear if, or for how long, sea lamprey had existed in Lake Champlain prior to this time. Taking into account that salmon and trout were sought by both the native people and settlers as a source of food, and later for commercial purposes, coupled with the obvious signs of lamprey parasitism - wounds, scars and attached lamprey - the lack of mention of lamprey in the oral and written history is consistent with the position that sea lamprey may be a non-native invasive species.

If sea lamprey are invasive, they are thought to have entered Lake Champlain during the 1800s from the Hudson River Estuary through the Hudson/Champlain Canal or possibly from the St. Lawrence River through the Richelieu River - both the Hudson and the St. Lawrence Rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean.

Or a native species?

Three recent genetic studies provided evidence to support the position that sea lamprey may be native to Lake Champlain and existed in the lake for around 10,000 years. If true, the lamprey may be having a detrimental impact on salmon and lake trout because the original Lake Champlain strains of these fish that may have evolved with the sea lamprey disappeared in the late 1800s.

Habitat degradation, water pollution, and dams on almost every tributary in the basin during the last two centuries may have kept lamprey numbers low. Recent improvements in habitat and water quality, along with the annual stocking of their preferred hosts, may be providing lamprey with a new opportunity to prosper. If native to Lake Champlain, sea lamprey either remained in the lake as a remnant population after the retreat of the "Champlain Sea" or migrated into the lake via the Richelieu River.

Does it matter?

Regardless of whether the sea lamprey is native or not, due to the severity of the impacts that sea lamprey currently have on the Lake Champlain fishery and ecosystem, and the social and economic impacts on the people who live in the Lake Champlain Basin, sea lamprey populations must be controlled to balance the Lake´s ecosystem and restore its world class fishery.

Other lamprey species

Three other lamprey species are found in the Lake Champlain Basin. Two species - the northern brook lamprey and the American brook lamprey - are non-parasitic filter feeders similar in size and habits to sea lamprey ammocoetes. The silver lamprey is parasitic, but does not have the negative impact on the Lake Champlain fish community that the sea lamprey does, due to its smaller size and fewer numbers.


Sea lamprey are an ancient fish, with a complex life cycle and mouth parts that are well adapted for their parasitic life. The elimination of this species from Lake Champlain is neither desired nor possible. However, their population must be reduced to lessen their negative impacts on the Lake Champlain fishery to an acceptable level, to balance the Lake Champlain Basin ecosystem and its world class fishery.

Animals on Tybee’s beach

Because of Tybee Island’s location between Cape Hatteras, NC, and Cape Canaveral, FL, we are in an overlap or transition zone between cool-water and tropical coastal marine faunas and floras. So we get to see plants and animals from both areas. Tybee is also surrounded by a variety of coastal marine habitats including salt marshes, estuaries, soft sandy bottom areas, and offshore hard-bottom reefs. So when you add all these features to our wide intertidal zone along the beach, it’s no wonder that I’m often heard saying, “you never know what you will see on Tybee’s beach!”

During our Tybee Beach Ecology Trips, we generally find quite a variety of different animals, and the discoveries are often different from one day to the next. As we finish a trip, I’ll usually ask folks that if they come across something on the beach that they don’t recognize to please get a picture and email or text it to me, or post it on the facebook page, and ask “what is this?” I love getting “what is this?” messages! So here are a few of the interesting animals that I frequently get asked about, and that you might encounter out on Tybee’s beach.

Sea Pansy

The Sea Pansy is actually a type of soft coral. It’s a round, flat, purple disk with a pink stalk. They live in shallow, sandy-bottom areas where the stalk sticks down in the sand to anchor the flat disk on the surface of the sandy bottom. Imbedded in the top of the disk are dozens of tiny polyps that look like tiny anemones, each with 8 tentacles. Underwater, these polyps extend out of the disk, and the tentacles catch microscopic plankton for food. Because all the polyps are connected to each other, a Sea Pansy is a good example of a “colonial” animal that is like one individual composed of many smaller individuals connected to, and supporting each other.

Sea Whip

A Sea Whip is another colonial, soft coral, and are closely related to Sea Pansies although they don’t look anything alike. A Sea Whip looks more like a plant or tree branch. Most commonly they are yellow or purple, but you might come across a white or orange one. If you look closely, you can see the tiny holes or slits all along the branches and it is down inside those holes where the polyps are. Like the Sea Pansy, when underwater, the polyps stick out and the Sea Whip will look fuzzy because of all the tiny white polyps and their tentacles. Unlike the Sea Pansy, a Sea Whip will grow attached to a hard bottom or structure.

Sea Pork

Maybe one of the strangest colonial animals I get asked about is Sea Pork. Usually when you find a clump of it on the beach, it would have washed up from offshore. They grow attached to hard bottoms and reefs offshore, but sometimes get knocked off and washed ashore. They are actually a colony of small sea squirts or ascidians, and they can come in a variety of colors ranging from bright red, blue, green, gray, beige and white. They are tough, rubbery feeling, and every one of them is a different shape and size.

Mantis Shrimp

The Mantis Shrimp is one of those things that I don’t handle with my own hands. Usually I’ll use a net or shovel because its praying-mantis-like pair of pinchers are very strong. They not only can pinch with them, but they can also flick them out with great speed and force, and can actually spear prey with them. A Mantis Shrimp is quite an acrobat and fun to watch in a pan or bucket of sea water because they can swim rapidly but can fold and roll up and do flips. Mantis Shrimp dig into the soft sandy/muddy bottom and make burrows and then come out to hunt.

Soda Straw Worm tubes

Have ever seen what look like strips of paper a few inches long laying on the sand? These are probably the paper-like tubes from Soda Straw Worms. These worms live in the shallow sandy bottom usually just beyond the low tide line where they burrow vertically down into the sand. Their skin produces a lot of slime that becomes a paper-like lining for their burrow. So they produce this paper straw like tube and the worm can move up and down inside of it, and the sand doesn’t cave in. Usually the very top of the tube will stick up above the surface of the sand by about a quarter or half an inch. As the sand shifts due to our tides and waves, the old tubes get washed out of the sand and wash up on the beach. So what we often see are the collapsed tubes that look like strips of paper.

Mermaid’s Necklace

Let’s take the sand-dwelling worm story one more step. Another species of tube building worms is the Plumed Worm, so called because its gills look like feathers or gills. A Plumed Worm will also secrete at smooth paper-like tube to line its hole or burrow in the sand. But the Plumed Worm takes it a step further. It will catch and gather bits of seaweed, shells, marsh grass, even trash, out of the water drifting by and it will attach these things onto the outside of its tube. It will reinforce the top few inches of its tube with these things. So when a piece of an old Plumed Worm tube washes out of the bottom and up onto shore, it often looks like a short chain or string of shells – sort of like a mermaid’s necklace!

These are just a small sample of the variety of marine animals you might find along Tybee’s beach. So if you find something you don’t recognize, feel free to take a picture and email to me or post it directly on the Tybee Beach Ecology Trips facebook page, and ask “what is this?” I’ll be glad to give you a not-so-short answer!

What Are the Different Kinds of Plankton?

There are two main kinds of plankton: phytoplankton, which are also called algae, and zooplankton.

A rotifer (a type of zooplankton) swims through a group of phytoplankton cells in this microscope image.

Phytoplankton are like plants. They use energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide, a gas in air and water, into sugars they can use to grow. Because they depend on the sun, phytoplankton can only live in the upper parts of a lake or the ocean. In deeper, darker waters, there just isn’t enough light for these creatures to grow and survive.

Zooplankton, the other kind of plankton, are tiny, and in a few cases not so tiny, animals. They must eat to stay alive. Some zooplankton graze algae just like cows munch on grass. Some are hunters that catch other zooplankton. And some zooplankton eat detritus—that means they eat dead organisms and poop sinking through the water!


Monogeneans are found on fresh- and saltwater fishes throughout the world. They have a direct life cycle and can reproduce in a wide range of temperatures. The hook-like structures of monogeneans are used to attach to the fish. Monogenean infestations cause irritation and excessive mucus production and create an opening for bacterial invasion. A few monogeneans on a healthy mature fish are not usually significant however, moderate numbers can cause significant mortalities. When fish are exposed to environmental or behavioral stressors, the potential damage from monogeneans is greater. Prevention of monogenean infestations by following appropriate quarantine is preferable to treatment of the parasites after they have become established in a system.

Should I get rid of them or not?

Just because you could remove the bristle worms doesn’t mean that you should. That is a decision that only you should make–but since you asked–I’ll give you my perspective on the matter. Bristle worms are ideally suited to aquarium life.

That’s why they grow and reproduce so well in our tanks. It would be rare and unusual for an aquarist to pay money, intentionally, for a bristle worm. We don’t invite them into our tanks, they just show up. But many of us (I’m raising one guilty hand right now) is a little bit sloppy with our husbandry we feed a little too much and clean the tank a little less often than we should.

The bristle worm population in your tank helps create a little bit of a natural, biological buffer–a cleanup crew that you didn’t intend, but mother nature developed specifically for this purpose. In addition to that, think about all the biological diversity and invertebrate life going on in your tank. How many rotifers, copepods, stomatella snails, hermit crabs, starfish, and other snails live and die in your tank in a given week, month or year?

I suspect you’re pretty good about removing large, dead organisms, like an unfortunate fish–but what about all those other critters? Do you catch and remove them all? Or do you need (or want) a little help?

The bristle worm is nature’s cleanup crew, so my vote is that you leave them alone. Monitoring the population should give you some insights into how much waste is really in your tank (and free for the bristle worms to consume), but otherwise, these segmented polychaetes are a good thing, in most tanks. The only time I would recommend removing them is if you have the larger, problematic species–or if you absolutely just can’t stand the sight of them.

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Watch the video: In-store Sessions: The Bristleworm Challenge --- Gallery Aquatica TV (July 2022).


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