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US Frenzy of marine worms swarm coastal waters in South Carolina, an annual event that means spring is here

04:35  28 april  2021
04:35  28 april  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Thousands of predatory marine worms with hooked jaws were spotted off the coast of South Carolina . The state’s Department of Natural Resources released jarring footage that showed “a frenzy of marine worms ” swimming across the top of waters near its headquarters in Charleston. Photo gives a close up look at the species of clamworms spotted swarming off the coast of South Carolina . Experts say clamworms typically live on seafloors and transform under new and full moons when their bodies morph into reproductive forms called “epitokes.” Clamworms can grow to up 7.5 inches and will

A ' frenzy ' of marine worms with hooked jaws made its annual appearance in a harbor in Charleston on April 14, 2021. These worms usually keep a low profile on the sea floor, but morph into reproductive forms called “epitokes” in the spring .

A video depicting a swarm of clam worms in a South Carolina harbor picked up thousands of views since being shared on Facebook earlier this month.

But officials say this is no cause for alarm, but rather an annual event that signifies the start of spring for some in Charleston, South Carolina and other coastal cities.

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Thousands of predatory clamworms have been spotted swarming in the waters off South Carolina 's coast .

Thomas F. Greene's Second Edition Marine Science Textbook Marine Biology and Oceanography Learn with flashcards, games and more — for free. An active hunter, the arrow worm uses its mouth bristles, which are modified as hooks, to prey on other animal plankton such as copepods, fish eggs, and fish larvae. How are the arrow worms ' means of locomotion and feeding adaptive in their particular habitat? They have tiny fins that enable swimming, but they mostly drift as part of the plankton community.

On paper, these clam worms may seem terrifying: carnivorous animals with hook-shaped jaws that can bite and pierce human skin.

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But in reality, they're very small — less than 1 inch long — and would only bite someone as a way to defend themselves, said Erin Weeks with the marine resources division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

"They're very similar to ants," Weeks said. "They have jaws to defend themselves if need be, so we wouldn't recommend anyone mess with them. But they're really not interested in humans."

Nothing says spring on the coast like… a frenzy of marine worms? ????????????Sometimes called clamworms, these animals that ordinarily live on the seafloor undergo an incredible transformation under new and full moons in spring – their bodies morph into reproductive forms called ‘epitokes’ as they swarm in coastal waters. This fascinating phenomenon occurs every year at our marine headquarters in Charleston and is often followed by hungry throngs of fish and birds along the marsh edge. ????????You may not want to go swimming with epitokes, as clamworms do have a set of hooked jaws, but it’s hard not to appreciate such an unusual coastal sight. ????️Have you ever seen an epitoke swarm in spring?

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Posted by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Typically, these worms emerge when the water temperatures are still cold, so it's unlikely that any swimmers are out in the water when they swarm, Weeks said.

And the frenzies usually last just a few days. The one seen in the video is already over, she added.

So why were these clam worms having such a massive pool party?

It's all about reproduction, Weeks said.

"These animals that ordinarily live on the seafloor undergo an incredible transformation under new and full moons in spring — their bodies morph into reproductive forms called ‘epitokes’ as they swarm in coastal waters," the state Department of Natural Resources posted along with the video.

a body of water: These marine worms, commonly referred to as clam worms, swarm coastal waters in Charleston, South Carolina on April 14. Though usually found on sea floors, these worms come to the surface for a massive mating ritual each year, signifying the start of spring in the area. © South Carolina Department of Natural Resources These marine worms, commonly referred to as clam worms, swarm coastal waters in Charleston, South Carolina on April 14. Though usually found on sea floors, these worms come to the surface for a massive mating ritual each year, signifying the start of spring in the area.

After depositing semen and eggs in the water, these clam worms die, Weeks said, and the process starts again the following year.

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And a massive swarm of marine worms may not be ideal visitors near the water, but it's a good sign for local fish and birds that want an all-you-can-eat buffet for local fish and birds.

In fact, the more worms like this you see, the better news for everyone.

"They tell us about the health of the ecosystem," Weeks said. "When we see many species of these worms, that’s an indicator that it’s healthy."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Frenzy of marine worms swarm coastal waters in South Carolina, an annual event that means spring is here

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This is interesting!