Ross Worm Reefs

Ross Worm Sabellaria spinulosa is a polychaete worm, which builds tubes from sand and shell fragments. Where large aggregations of Ross Worm occur, reefs are formed, which enable a range of other species to become established. Ross Worm reefs on soft sediments are of particular significance for nature conservation.

Why are they important?

  • Ross Worms can act to stabilise sediments, providing a structured habitat for seabed species to inhabit.

Ross Worm Reefs in Sussex

An area of Ross Worm reef can be found off the coast of Eastbourne.

What are the threats?

  • Several types of fishing including dredging, trawling and potting can cause physical damage to Ross Worm reefs.
  • It is currently unclear what effects aggregate dredging has in areas where Ross Worm reefs occur.

Some associated species

  • Bib Trisopterus luscus
  • Cuckoo Wrasse Labrus mixtus
  • Pink Shrimp Pandalus montagui
  • a bivalve mollusc Abra alba
  • Hornwrack Flustra foliacea

Common Hermit Crab

Photo: Paul Naylor/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Links to more information

The Marine Life Information Network