Strange Denizens Beneath the Bay

Photo Jul 24, 10 25 17 AM

When starting any travel journal, I like to start where I am. So this morning I went out to the bay to say a final farewell before we hit the road.

As I was strolling along, I happened upon these unfortunately looking spirals of what looked like some sort of animal poop. Bird poop, I wondered? What kind of bird poops in spirals? None I had ever seen. Usually bird poop is a bit more splappy. I decided further investigation was in order.

Photo Jul 24, 10 30 32 AM

So up close I got. This poop is thoroughly covered in sand. Did the animal poop underground? Is this from some sort of creature that dwells beneath the sand? Maybe it isn’t poop at all. I grabbed a stick and sliced through a few piles. It was sand through and through. Not poop at all.
Some underground creature must be burrowing out its dwelling.

Photo Jul 24, 10 31 10 AM

As I stood there, I saw a spiral of sand push up through the ground. A biological event was in progress, clearly!

As I looked around, I noticed these little jellyfish-like creatures nearby. There were hundreds of them. I decided these creatures must have something to do with the spirals. Perhaps they burrowed up from beneath the sand, and then expanded into this shape once they were above ground?

Most curious. I have never seen a creature like this, nor heard about one.

Photo Jul 24, 10 31 26 AM Photo Jul 24, 10 31 36 AM

They also left these little sink hole thingies.

Photo Jul 24, 10 32 45 AM

I decided they must be jellyfish and went on my merry way.

When I returned home, I decided to consult the Almighty Oracle. (i.e. Google).

This is what I learned:

Actually yes it was poop. So glad I got right up close to it and prodded it with a stick! Lucky for me, it is in fact still mostly sand. Turns out these spirals are the castings of something called a Lugworm, which can grow as long as 9 inches. And those jellyfish? They are sacks filled with Lugworm larvae. EW.

Apparently it is Lugworm hatching time right now at the Emeryville section of the SF Bay, and my fascinating nature experience was every bit as revolting as I had originally feared. Moreso even. Giant worm larvae, yay! To think that just a foot or so below me was swarming and slithering with giant worms near a foot long! Leaving big ole jelly sacks to hatch more of themselves, while littering the beach with worm poop.

I love nature!!

Silliness aside, that was actually kind of cool for me. To witness a biological happening that is not 3 minutes from my house, something that I had never even heard of. And their poop is pretty clean. These worms eat sand and absorb the bacteria out of it for their food, and then eliminate the sand. You could say this is the cleanest sand on the beach!

I still draw the “Poop is cool” line at coffee beans shat out of the butts of lemurs though.

No wonder the seagulls are so fat and happy around here!

Stay tuned for more riveting tales of weirdness! Our tour starts in 30 minutes!

For a pictographic tour journal you can follow along on Instragram – I’m sharonknight777.

One thought on “Strange Denizens Beneath the Bay

Comments are closed.