Yes, a foot-long worm would make you pause on a Maine beach. But fear not, it's just a sandworm.

There are sandworms on Maine beaches because the breeding season is underway, so these icky worms are beaching themselves. You can blame the South Portland Parks and Recreation Department for the amazing picture that definitely makes them look scary as hell.

South Portland Parks and Recreation Facebook
South Portland Parks and Recreation Facebook

This is on Willard Beach in South Portland, Maine. Sandworms (sometimes called clamworms, according to WMTW) can be used as bait for fishing. They are great for striped bass, fluke, and whiting. Maine used to for decades be the largest harvester of sandworms in the United States. But for the past 20 years, the harvest has dropped by almost two-thirds.

"These are sandworms, and they are here to breed!"

That's a quote from the South Portland Parks and Rec Facebook post. Well, that's direct. It's springtime! A time of flowers budding and worms getting it on. The water temperatures and the added daylight hours are perfect conditions. They have 'mass spawning events' in the spring. Oh.

Here in Maine, you can order sandworms by the dozen from the Gulf of Maine. They aren't cheap. Three dozen (they are currently sold out of the dozen option) will run you $108, and that's before shipping. They can be three to 12 inches long!

They are expensive because it's hard work to harvest. Diggers harvest the worms from intertidal mud flats during low tide. The two species primarily harvested in Maine, the blood worm (Glycera dibranchiata) and the sandworm (Nereis virens) are packed in seaweed and shipped. Back in 2020, the industry paid about $8.7 to harvesters.

So don't squish that scary-looking worm. Move along and let them get it on.

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