Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database

Teredo navalis

Common name(s):
Naval Shipworm
Naval Shipworms are bivalves (like clams) that look like worms. They don?t use their shell for protection; rather they use it as a tool to burrow into wood. They live in the burrow they create in the wood, poking their heads out to feed. Historically these shipworms made their homes in the hulls of wooden ships and traveled the world. Because wooden ships have moved these species around the world for so long, it is difficult to say where they originated and where they were introduced. We believe Naval Shipworms are introduced to the East Coast because reports of this species were confined to ships and shipwrecks, but were absent in natural areas and in wood of a 5,000 yr-old fishweir in Boston, through a similar native species (Bankia gouldi) was found. Naval Shipworms were first seen in the Elizabeth River in 1878 under in debris from a wharf. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, they were reported in Chincoteague Bay, Ocean City MD, and Hampton Roads, Norfolk and Portsmouth VA.
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