talking points for nature guides
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worms in general
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Introducing worms
updated Oct 2016

Don't step on the tubeworms!
These are not plant roots or bits or rubbish. These are tubes made by worms! And that patch that looks like a shaggy carpet are actually made up of tiny tubes of worms.

What are worms?

Worms are animals!

  • Do you know what a worm looks like? Some worms on our shore look very different from the worms we are more familiar with.
    • Many marine worms have bristles on the sides of their bodies. These bristles may poke you and may have toxins so don't touch them.
    • Some worms have a feathery fan on their heads: like fanworms and keelworms.
    • Some worms are very long! The Giant reefworm can reach 1m long or more!
    • Some worms are very flat, like the flatworms

  • Where do worms live on a shore?
    • Many live under stones or coral rubble.
    • Some are buried in the sand or mud. Sometimes, they leave a worm cast on the surface.
    • Many build tubes for themselves: tubeworms.
    • Besides the big worms that you can see, there are countless tiny worms, some of them smaller than a grain of sand, all over the shore!

  • Don't touch worms!
    • Some have toxic bristles.
    • Some can bite.
    • Many are delicate and will be hurt if you handle them.
Worms are important to the habitat
  • Many animals love to eat worms. Can you think of animals that would eat worms? Some charismatic animals to highlight: shorebirds, crabs, fishes.
Handling tips

Where to find worms Many hide under stones and rocks, others may be crawling about in the open, some large ones hide in crevices in coral rubble. Yet others build tubes which are obvious at low tide.

When looking under a stone
be gentle. Return the stone to the same position after you have shown it. Do this gently so that you don't crush the animals.

Don't step on the worms
They are delicate living animals.

Don't dig up
or scrape off worms. Use diagrams or photos included in a guidebook if you have to show them internal features of a worm or tube. If you really HAVE to, only use tubes that have washed ashore.

Don't touch: Many worms can bite or have toxic bristles or other protection.
FREE photos of marine worms. Make your own badge here.
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