Sand-Castle Worm

Phragmatopoma californica





The Sandcastle worm can be located within regions ranging from along the Pacific coasts of California, USA and Baja California, Mexico (1).  In regard to the specific habitat, this polychaete can be found within the rocky intertidal zones (2).  The Phragmatopoma californica injests food by releasing many ciliated tentacles with the goal to encapture and transport food/ particulates from the surrounding water to the mouth (2).  Within the mouth, the food composition is analyzed  and the unwanted particulates are released, while the particles of the right size, shape, and composition are passed on to be digested (2).  One fascinating characteristic of the Sandcastle worm is tube construction (3).  The worm has the ability to secrete tiny spots of glue to millimeter-sized mineral particles which are then pressed onto the end of the tube (3).  


(1) Jensen, R.A., Morse, D.E., Petty, R.L., Hooker, N. (1990). Artificial induction of larval metamorphosis by free fatty acids.  Marine Ecology Progress Series, 67, 55-71. Retrieved from

(2) Endrizzi, B.J., Stewart, R.J. (2009). Glueomics : An Expression Survey of the Adhesive Gland of the Sandcastle Worm.  The Journal of Adhesion, 85(8), 546-559.

(3) Wang, C.S., Stewart, R.J. (2012). Localization of the bioadhesive precursors of the sandcastle worm, Phragmatopoma californica (Fewkes). Journal of Experimental Biology, 215(2), 351-361.  doi: 10.1242/jeb.065011

(Photographs) Peter J. Bryant, University of California, Irvine


  • Rocky Intertidal Zone