Citizen scientists needed:

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 30 September 2016

You can help shed light on the sex-life of lugworms We are asking the public to keep an eye out for signs of passion in the lugworm population this Autumn! Lugworms (Arenicola marina) spend most of their lives in muddy or sandy places, burrowed deep in the sediment.

You can help shed light on the sex-life of lugworms We are asking the public to keep an eye out for signs of passion in the lugworm population this Autumn! Lugworms (Arenicola marina) spend most of their lives in muddy or sandy places, burrowed deep in the sediment. They don’t have much chance of meeting a partner, so the male of the species releases sperm which collects in é’puddles’ on the surface of the sand. When the tide comes in, the sperm is washed down into the burrows of the females and fertilises their eggs. Here’s where you come in: Very specific environmental conditions are needed to trigger the release of the sperm and the egg at the same time and very little is known about the process.You can help to fill in the knowledge gaps by taking part in “Sperm Watch”! Leonie Richardson, Capturing our Coast Project Officer for the Marine Conservation Society says, “Why not combine a gentle stroll on the beach this autumn with keeping an eye out for lugworm sperm? Each survey submitted provides valuable information to help piece together the puzzle of when these elusive marine worms breed and what environmental factors might trigger them to spawn. If you fancy being involved in some intriguing scientific research, join Spermwatch and help realise the power of citizen science! Ø Dubbed é’Spermwatch’, the project is part of a wider conservation project called Capturing our Coast, a partnership between universities, conservation and research organisations including Newcastle University, Marine Conservation Society and Earthwatch. Capturing our Coast is a three year programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Find out more on the Capturing our Coast website.

Actions you can take

  1. Report your wildlife sightings

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