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HomeLatest NewsWhat in the worm? Meet the furtive fish-loving critters living under your...

What in the worm? Meet the furtive fish-loving critters living under your toes

The common beach worm is nothing but a bait animal for many Australian fishermen, but recent TikTok videos of the large sand-dwelling creatures have left the world enthralled.

21-year-old Manly local, Bailey O’Brien has been beach worming for bait since he was a boy, but after one of his videos on TikTok received millions of views overnight, he decided it could become a career prospect.

Bailey O’Brien as a boy catching a beach worm.

“So I had a video from a few days ago when my mate got his first beach worm and I was sitting at night in my room and I was like, I don’t really go on TikTok, but I’m gonna post this video to see how it does,” Bailey recalled.

“I woke up the next morning at like, 6am before I went to work and like six hours later, that video had over four million views. And I was like, I just couldn’t fathom it.”

Beach worming is a special form of bait collecting for fishermen, you can locate them on most Australian beaches as they live under the sand banks.

The worms can exceed 2.5 meters in length and are attracted to the scent of fish.

Giant Beach Worm, scientific name: Australonuphis parateres. Photo: Australian Museum

The key to catching the elusive critters is arriving at low tide, rubbing a fish on the sand to provoke the worms to pop up and feed, and then swiftly grabbing and pulling them from the ground.

Bailey estimates there are around 50,000 worms on Manly Beach alone

Bailey estimates there are around 50,000 worms on Manly Beach alone and says pulling the giants out of the ground not only gets a rouse from his online community but also his immediate company.

“So usually when I’m pulling them out of the sand, I don’t usually see the person but I’ll like hear a scream. I’ll hear like ‘Oh my God, what is that’ and people like rush up to me, but they won’t get too close.

“Alaskan Bull Worm, Dune, all these movies that I haven’t even seen because some of them are probably older than me, people reference them online and stuff and I just can’t believe it.”

Bailey O’Brien’s TikTok account that has gone viral.

Bailey’s TikTok account TightLinez currently has over 285K followers and almost each video receives tens of millions of views every upload.

Before his account spontaneously blew up, the young fisherman was not too far off from packing his bags and moving to Cairns, seeking employment on coral trout commercial boats.

Now, he has his sights set on expanding his worming empire, creating merch requested by fans and providing lessons to those who are fascinated by the activity.

Bailey catching a worm at Manly Beach.

“I’m basically trying to make some shirts that I can wear while I’m filming and I’m making a whole different design idea that I can actually put on my website (soon to be launched) for shirts, T-shirts, hats, everything.

“I’m going to start up beach worming classes all over the Northern Beaches, so I can teach everyone, which a lot of people have been demanding on my videos,” Bailey said.

If you’d like to see these deep sand creatures up close and learn how to catch them, you can hit up Bailey on his socials or email tightlinezaus2002@gmail.com.

Otherwise, those weary of the worms can view them on his TikTok from the safety of your homes, just be mindful of where you step next time you’re at the beach.


Article written by Jack Kelly with Makaela O’Brien 

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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