title for sandworm section of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
 

Sandworms, or nereids, represent just one type of many free-living polychaetes on west-coast shores. 

NOTE  the group is named after Nereid who in Greek mythology was the sea-nymph daughter of the sea-god Nereus.  One of the earliest references to nereid worms in English literature is by Jones in 1845 who wrote, a propos of nothing in particular and in peculiar twisted logic: “The nereids, as might be expected from their activity and erratic habits, are carnivorous animals”. 

  black dot
 

drawing of snail meeting sandworm in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
ANIMATION of snail meeting SANDWORM
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast SANDWORMS: select a topic from the sandworm menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the SANDWORM

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

map for sandworm part of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
  black dot
 

Sandworms are segmented and are placed in the Class Polychaeta of the Phylum Annelida:

Phylum Annelida (lit. “ring” L.), referring to the segmented nature of the body

Class Polychaeta (lit. “many bristles” G.).  Grouped here are forms that are mainly free-living (i.e., neither strictly burrowers or strictly tube-dwelling).

Family Nereididae (lit. “sea nymph” G. ) includes more than 20 species of large worms known variously as sandworms, clamworms, ragworms, pilingworms, and musselworms (e.g., Nereis vexillosa, Platynereis bicanaliculata, Neanthes succinea)

Family Polynoidae (lit. “many” G.) includes 30 or more species of scaleworms that are free-living (e.g., Halosydna brevisetosa) or living in association with other invertebrates (e.g., Arctonoë fragilis, A. vittata)

Family Hesionidae includes several small, fragile, free-living species living on mixed sand and silt sediments (e.g., Ophiodromus (Podarke) pugettensis, a species that is also found in the ambulacral grooves of sea stars, such as Patiria miniata

Family Sigalionidae includes large, free-living carnivorous scaleworms inhabiting mud sediments intermixed with gravel and/or shell fragments 

NOTE  polychaetes are very “Family-oriented” and the first task of any aspiring polychaete researcher is to learn to identify a good number of the 57-or so families that comprise our west-coast polychaete fauna.  Contemporary classification of polychaetes seems less attentive to categorising families into larger taxonomic groups but, rather, to grouping them into functional groups of feeding, habitat type, and so on, and this is the approach used here.  Thus, mainly burrowing forms can be found in the LUGWORM part, mainly tube-dwelling species in the TUBEWORM part, and mainly free-living forms here in the SANDWORM part of the ODYSSEY.  Because this separation is not finely tuned there will some arbitrary decisions made as to which Family goes where and one or two families appear in more than one section of the ODYSSEY (e.g., Spionidae)

  black dot
  RETURN TO TOP