Shed light on secret sex life of lugworms

Cresswell beach
Cresswell beach

Volunteers are being asked to keep an eye out for signs of passion on the beach at Cresswell as the sex life of a small species is being put in the spotlight.

Sandy beaches are the ideal environment for the lugworm, Arenicola marina, to reproduce. The males release sperm, which collects in puddles on the surface of the beach. When the tide comes in, the sperm is washed down into the burrows of the females and fertilises her eggs.

Not a lot is known about the process – all that is known is that specific environmental conditions are needed – so Newcastle University is enlisting the help of the public to help out its team.

The Spermwatch project, part of a wider conservation project called Capturing Our Coast, started on Sunday and runs until December 1, and the shore at Cresswell is one of the places where information is being sought.

To participate, download an instruction book at www.capturingourcoast.co.uk/specific-information/spermwatch and get recording.