Honeycomb worm reefs
Time & Location
About the Event
The Honeycomb worm is a reef-building worm. Each worm builds itself a protective tube from sand and shell fragments, which together form a reef that looks like honeycomb. Each little hole is like a worm apartment and is where the worm lives and feeds. Each tube even has an overhanging porch! The Honeycomb worm is a filter feeder, extending feeding tentacles into the water column when the tide is in to catch floating particles of plankton or detritus. They live mainly on the shoreline and will build hummock-shaped reefs on most hard substrates - from rocks to coastal defence structures. They need hard substrates to settle on and sand to build their tubes with - so are only found in places where both are plentiful.
The worms act as important ecosystem engineers, creating stable intertidal reef substrate which increases biodiversity by providing habitat for other shore-dwelling animals such as anemones, snails, shore crabs and seaweeds such as sea lettuce - up to 38 different species have been recorded on a well-established reef!
Honeycomb worm reefs (and the subtidal Ross worm reefs) are a feature for which Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) can be designated to protect.