What Are Beach Worms?

What are Beach Worms?

Polychaete(worm) Australonuphis commonly called the
Australian beach worm is a genus of annelid often used as
bait by fishermen. As the name suggests they live in the sand
on ocean beaches generally between the high and low tide
marks.

Beach worms can grow to more than 2 meters in length
and have a head with two fangs that they use to rip off pieces
of dead fish or birds which are washed up onto the beach.
They have hundreds of hair like legs down each side of their
bodies which they use to grip the sand.

Beach worms are blind.

However they have a very strong sense of smell. Worms are also
very sensitive to touch, sudden movement and heavy footsteps
on the sand. They disappear immediately when frightened.

There are 2 distinct types of beach worms commonly found
on Australian beaches. Some beaches have predominantly
one type of worm population but many beaches have both
types living together. The main difference between these two
species of worm is the colour of their head, their thickness,
and the length to which they grow.

The Two Types Of Beach Worms

The first type AUSTRALONUPHIS teres (my father and his
mates called them Greenies, some fishermen call them bronze
heads or stumpies) are shorter and stubbier and grow to
approximately 1.2m in length. They have a striped head which
has a bronze or gold sheen to it and can be as thick as your
finger or a small snake. These are extremely strong and are
difficult to hold on to and pull out of the sand. The big ones are
strong enough to pull your hand under the sand and often do.

The second type AUSTRALONUPHIS parateres (we always
called them reddies, also known as slimy) grow to more than
2m in length. I have personally caught them up to 8ft or 2.4m.
These worms are not as thick but they certainly make up for
it in length. One 2m reddie can supply you with many baits
considering you would normally use about 10cm for each.

This image is of an extra thick stumpy worm.

BEACH WORM BEHAVIOR
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Would you like to catch your own Beach Worms?

Learn more here – How To Catch Beach Worms