The fragile tubes look like twigs frozen in ice. The “small, silvery filament-like objects” don’t coat tree branches, though; they wash up on Oregon beaches. The dislodged shells of cellophane worms (Spichaetopterus costarum) are commonly known as “tube worm casings.” As Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium explains, cellophane worms “live just below the low tide line of sandy beaches,” where they construct and reside inside the tubes, “which become encrusted with sand” and are washed ashore and distributed along the beach by surf, “currents and upwellings.”

Trivia: Worm Casings of strange objects found on the beach
Trivia: Worm Casings of strange objects found on the beach

CoastWatch’s Fawn Custer pointed out that the cellophane worms, which “feel like hair,” are always present. At times, under “certain conditions,” they are unearthed and scattered “onshore” by the action of waves. Normally, the diminutive worms “suck in their food, tiny bits of formerly living matter,” through their tubes, which rise close to the “surface of the sand.” When their tubes are detached by surf or currents, the worms secrete “a kind of goo that eventually hardens into another tube.”

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