Worms (with feet?) on Whidbey Island

Last weekend, I went back to see family in the Pacific Northwest, and celebrated my older sister’s birthday and upcoming wedding on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound.

At low tide, I took a walk with my mom (burgeoning Foldscope enthusiast) along the beach and collected water from tide pools to examine.

We kept seeing many worm-like creatures, and using PVC cutouts to create mini-aquariums, we were able to image their live behavior under the Foldscope.

Most interesting to me was a segmented worm that seemed to be using some kind of foot near it’s mouth to propel itself:

worm head with antennae and leg/feeding appendage on left side

It is possible this is just a feeding appendage but its extension and contraction seemed to be propelling the organism forward. In the video below, I’ve summarized the results from three independently collected samples, with annotations and contemplative piano music that are hopefully more useful than distracting. Please let me know what you think and if you can identify this creature!



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi! My guess is it’s a non biting midget larva. Not sure though.

  2. laksiyer says:

    @Javier is spot on I think. Looks like a midge larva with the prolegs beneath the head and and the tufts at the end. Some of them have hemoglobin that makes them red too.

  3. MaxCoyle says:

    Hi @laksiyer and @Javier!

    I looked up your suggestion and I think you are right. I found this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMf1OIFhUC0 of a midge larvae and you can see the same proleg, the antennae, and hemoglobin spotting. Very cool.

    My guess for species is Clunio marinus, a pretty widespread intertidal region midge and model for circalunal tidal timing https://www.nature.com/articles/nature20151

  4. Manu Prakash says:

    Even before reading the comments, I was going to suggest a nudge larvae – nice that multiple people got to the same conclusion. I love this kind of species identification.

    Welcome back Max; so awesome to see your posts.


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