MARIGOT–The recent sightings of worms on Le Galion Beach with associated comments and photos that went viral on Facebook in the last few days, have been dismissed as harmless phenomena by Réserve Naturelle.
On its Facebook page, the Réserve said: “Regarding the number of reports and Facebook messages, we would like to reassure the users of Le Galion Beach that the worms currently visible in the water, or on the sand, belong to the Sipuncula family, animals close to annelids (some are marine worms) and do not present stinging bristles on the body, unlike the Fire worms.
“They live buried in the sediment of sandy areas, where they collect their food (organic matter) inside or at the surface of the sediment. Their current presence at the surface of sediment (sand) is a consequence of the high temperature of the sea water, as well as the presence of decaying Sargasso residues, leading to depletion of the oxygen usually dissolved in the water. As it is living in the sand where water is poorly renewed and poor in oxygen, it is pushed towards the surface to be able to breathe.
“They are not dangerous to the population. They are usually present deep in the sand and mud of the bay where they feed. They are therefore wild animals, naturally present in the marine areas of the nature reserve, where they play a role in the functioning of the ecosystem. They are therefore by definition protected and must not be collected or manipulated by the public.” Here is a descriptive sheet for a species belonging to the family of Sipunculiens for example: http://doris.ffessm.fr/Especes/Ver-cacahuete3.