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Sandworm, Alitta virens

The sandworm (Alitta virens) is a species of polychaete worm that is classified within the Annelida phylum. It burrows into mud or wet sand, feeding on microorganisms and seaweed. This species is typically large, sometimes reaching four or more feet in length, and have blue heads equipped with two sharp pincers. This species can also be identified by the many vascularized parapodia that occur on the sides of its body. These act as a means of propulsion and as gills that allow the worm to breath.

The sandworm plays an important role in the live sea-bait industry, being harvested both from the wild and in closed off harvesting areas. The harvesting industry employs over one thousand people in Maine, but in 2006, it was found that the population numbers of the sandworm were dangerously low due to over harvesting of the species.

Image Caption: Nereis virens (Neanthes virens, Alitta virens). Credit: Alexander Semenov/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

Sandworm Alitta virens


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