What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Cannon Beach Ghost Millipede of the Sea?
February 4, 2010
On Sunday, January 31 at about 7:30 in the morning, my friend and I were taking one last stroll along the beautiful shore on Cannon Beach. The beach goes along south until it runs into some black rocks and tide pools. I’ve seen a lot of interesting things there, but this takes the cake.
Washed up on the sand, not caught in a tidepool but instead in a very shallow seabound stream, was a pale ghost of a creature that I admit, freaked me out. I’m pretty sure it was either dead or unaccustomed to surface pressure… it seemed quite limp in either case.
It was off-white, with an almost luminescent-looking greenish tinge. You can sort of see the color in the photo. And I couldn’t discern any eyes, just that rather spectacular pointed oblong of a head. And the spinal column… not that bugs necessarily have spines, but you know… was translucent, not whitish. You can see it in the photo; the translucent part seems to surround the …brain? Brrrr. Wow. Somewhere between 4 and 6 inches of fascinating, nameless wriggle – hard to say for sure with it folded up like that and me afraid to touch it (even with a stick).
I wish I had a better photo for you; the water was washing it back out to the ocean, and my camera is old and beat up. It certainly isn’t pretty enough to make picture of the month. But with any luck, you can tell me what this bizarre encounter was. Have you ever seen anything like it?
I haven’t, save perhaps in unremembered dreams…
Nikki Burns, still a Goonie
Cannon Beach, OR

Sea Worm

Dear Nikki,
Your letter is wonderful, and this creature is a bit out of our typical request realm, though we have identified marine worms in the past.  We are posting it immediately as unidentified in the hopes that one of our readers will have some clue as to its identity, and we will begin to research ourselves.  Meanwhile, hold tight and we will see what we are able to uncover.  We would strongly suggest that you post a comment to your own letter in the event that sometime far in the future, an identification is provided.  We generally write back if we get an identification in a few days, but eventually, a querant’s email address vanishes into the black hole that our email account becomes after about a week.

Hi again Nikki,
On a lark, we just did a search for sea worm, and found the Wikipedia page on the genus Glycera, Blood Worms, and it sure looks like your critter.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Oregon

9 Responses to Flotsam from Oregon: Blood Worm in genus Glycera perhaps

  1. thujaUW says:

    Wow. I would never have guessed worm (so many legs!). Thank you for the google search – what a fascinating sort of creature! The one you found seems to be from Novia Scotia, and I haven’t photos of these guys from the west coast yet, but I’ll keep digging. Makes me glad I didn’t pick it up. Sounds like a bite would have hurt!

  2. Dlara says:

    Our family found one of these on a beach in Lincoln City, Oregon, today. While I “picked it up” by gathering the sand around it in my hands, of course the youngest in our group (4yo) grabbed it and decided it was his friend. Luckily that didn’t last toooo long, and he wasn’t bitten. Having grown up on the coast I am still surprised by the new things we find. I appreciate the Wikipedia link also!

  3. Jodi says:

    My daughter found the same creature on the beach in Rockaway Beach on 2 different occasions this month (May 2014). Would be nice to know what it is.

  4. DnA says:

    We found some too…North Bend/Coos Bay, Oregon….what the hell are these?

    Have picture.

    -D “n” A

  5. Sarah Kraft says:

    We just went digging for sand crabs today outside of Seaside. Found many of these things (in the sand, not on top) One was an easy 8 inches long. What are they?

  6. Matthew Wallace says:

    We found one off the coast of California Trinidad they’re fugly looking and when I got close to it it jolted at me they’re crazy looking

  7. Marc Foutch says:

    We have them here in Maine too saw hundreds of them while digging bloodworms. Though they aren’t what we would call “true” bloodworms, they are very closely related. They are definitely annelids. Segmented worms. They definitely bite the same way as a bloodworm would, though I didn’t see those 4 black fangs when they shoot their mouths out, they definitely shoot their mouths out. Normally our bloodworms are found in soft sticky mud, but I was after some larger sized worms that I have found to be more prone to sandy more gravelly substrates and that’s where I found these worms. No one I’ve talked to could give me an actual name for them them. And that’s coming from guys who’ve been turning over the mud flats for 25+ years…

  8. Famine says:

    My son and I found 2 while digging on the beach in Salisbury, MA. Been going to the beach up there for my whole life and had never dug one of them up – kind of freaked us out at first!

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