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Beachworms (Onuphidae)

Matthew O'Brien MObrien at zoology.uq.edu.au
Mon Mar 1 22:46:59 EST 1999

Hi everyone,

My name is Matthew O'Brien and I have just started a PhD working on the
ecology and fisheries management of Beachworms (Onuphidae) on surf beaches
of Queensland and New South Wales (Australia).

A bit of background on the worms:

The beachworms grow up to 2 metres in length.  They live in the intertidal
(esp swash zone) and subtidal of surf beaches on the east coast of
Australia.  The beachworms are commercially caught for bait, by hand with
the aid of burley to bring them to the surface.  Also, they are caught
recreationally (also for bait), and this is unregulated at this stage, but
this will change soon, and a bag limit of 20 per day will apply.  Not much
is known about the worms, so the project has a lot of scope.

The main worms of interest are:

Australonuphis teres 
Australonuphis parateres
Onuphis taeniata
Onuphis gygis
Onuphis mariahirsuta

There are four main objectives for the project:
1.  to determine where and why beachworms are located on the QLD/NSW surf
2.  to determine how the various Onuphid species that make up the fishery
are distributed relative to each other and in time
3.  to determine if levels of commercial and recreational fishing effort
relate to yield and sustainability of the fishery
4.  to make recommendations for the management of the fishery based on the
evaluation of catch and effort data and research of the biology of the worms

Any information/feedback you can give would be greatly appreciated!

Of particular interest would be info concerning:

1.  Any great ideas/experience on sampling beachworms.  I have a couple of
papers and an honours thesis which give some ideas, but there doesn't seem
to be much info around on sampling motile large organisms in the intertidal
(but I may not be looking in the right place).  Cores don't work on such

2.  Any info on reproduction (especially the mode of) would also be
appreciated.  Gamete production is documented, but there seems to be no
info as to how and when fertilisation occurs, and the subsequent
development of juveniles.  If anyone has any experience in like organisms,
this may be the place for me to start.

I look forward to hearing your responses/comments/queries.  If anyone
needs/wants any more info on the project, please feel free to ask!

Thanks in Advance,


Matthew O'Brien,
Department of Zoology and Entomology,
University of Queensland,
Brisbane  QLD  4072

email: mobrien at zoology.uq.edu.au

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