Bait pumping


Bait pumps are mainly used for the extraction of black lugworms Arenicola defodiens, a relatively recently described species that appears to be confined to the lowest part of the shore on more exposed coasts, and presumably in the adjacent subtidal. The method is reportedly most successful during the low water mark of spring tides and immediately after exposure of the shore by the tide, when the sand is still very wet. A pump is placed over the newly produced lugworm faecal cast, then suction used to withdraw a thin column of sand, including the lugworm (which lies vertically in its J-shaped burrow), to the surface. This method cannot be used on all shores, but requires fairly fine, well-sorted (exposed) sands with a high water content. (Some professional bait collectors also use pumps in other habitats.) Skill is required, because it is easy to damage or break the worm using this method. In suitable conditions, however, bait pumps are quicker and easier to use than the traditional method of bait digging, and are becoming increasingly popular. They cannot be used to extract blow lug, A. marina, which does not usually lie vertically in its burrow or occur in such suitable sediments for pumping.

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