Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
A mere year after US beaches started reopening post-lockdown, a biblical plague of biting creatures called clamworms has invaded the South Carolina coastline, prompting scientists to issue an advisory to beachgoers.
“You may not want to go swimming . . . as clamworms do have a set of hooked jaws,” warned the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) on Facebook. “These animals that ordinarily live on the seafloor undergo an incredible transformation under new and full moons in spring – their bodies morph into reproductive forms called ‘epitokes’ as they swarm in coastal waters.”
An accompanying video depicts the orange critters, which evoke a feather crossed with a centipede, swarming on the surface of the water like krill during their spring spawning season.
But don’t let their flamboyant appearance fool you. These marine invertebrates are known to clamp onto fingers with their hook-like jaws, which are strong enough to break the skin, according to experts at Walla Walla University in Washington.
Despite the danger, “it’s hard not to appreciate such an unusual coastal sight,” writes SCDNR. “Nothing says spring on the coast — like a frenzy of marine worms?”
However, don’t fret if you miss this year’s clamworm congregation: Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, every spring these salacious sea beasts gather in the waters off Charleston, SC, in search of a mate.
The swarms are generally tailed by hungry throngs of fish and birds.
However, in the realm of lecherous marine life, these guys don’t hold a candle to the flotilla of” “sea penises” that inundated the California coastline in 2019.