NuGen Properties

Welsh water worms get a new home


The colony of honeycomb reef worms (sabellaria alveolate) was in the way of the new Penrhyn Bay project to build a T-shaped groyne to reduce erosion and minimise the impact of stormy weather and its associated flooding.

The honeycomb reef worm is mostly found in the Mediterranean Sea and north Atlantic Ocean. The UK is the most northerly extent of its range. It lives in small tubes constructed out of cemented coarse sand and shell material arranged in close proximity to form a reef with a honeycomb appearance.

Jones Bros carefully extracted large sections of reef from under the footprint of the new groyne and took them to their new habitat. The slabs of honeycomb were then positioned to preserve their original orientation and structure.

The contractor was assisted by Cloudbase Productions, a company specialising in marine biological survey. Director Rohan Holt said: : “There are plenty of signs of life, including big chunks of reef that have cemented themselves into their new resting place. 

“These are joined by swarms of juveniles that actively seek areas ready-colonised by adults, as they transform from their planktonic stage.  

“There is about 10-25% coverage which should eventually merge with the nearby established material.  

“As this is the first time a relocation of this scale has been undertaken, both Jones Bros and I are really pleased to see such promising results.” 

Jones Bros project manager Sam Roberts said: “It’s a development we’ve loved being a part of and we are thrilled to have completed it ahead of schedule. 

“Protecting the environment in which we work is always high on the agenda, so to have the opportunity to transfer such a vast size of reef, and for it to succeed, is fantastic.” 

The project was carried out for Conwy County Borough Council and largely funded through the Welsh government’s coastal risk management programme. 

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