A reader sent us a photograph accompanied by this message, “What type of bloodworm is this? I have used them for bait when ice fishing for smelts in Maine.” The photograph shows a worm-like organism next to a knife on a table. Assuming the knife is normal size, the worm might be 5-7 inches long. The center of its body is lined with a blue or white stripe, and it has thick red bristles lining both sides of the light stripe:
This is a marine bloodworm, though we do not know the exact species. Marine bloodworms belong to the genus Glycera. These polychaetes, or bristle worms, are usually found at the bottom of shallow marine waters. Their striking red color is the result of the hemoglobin (a red protein) in their bodies. Bloodworms have parapodia running down their bodies, which are the small fleshy red projections we can see on the specimen in the photograph our reader sent. Some marine bloodworms can grow to be 14 inches long!
There are over 80 species of marine bloodworms. Most of them are used for fishing and sold in commercial bait stores, as well as online bait stores. Most are available to be purchased frozen, dried, or live depending on preference. Unfortunately, we do not know what species of bloodworm our reader was fishing with. If she bought them through a specific company, we recommend she reach out to the company. If any of our other readers recognize this creature, we invite them to share their knowledge in a comment on this article!
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In summary, one of our readers asked us to identify a bloodworm she used for fishing in Maine. Sadly, we don’t know the species of this marine bloodworm.