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.
Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.


Teredo navalis


Pholas teredo; Teredo vulgaris; Teredo sellii; Sellius marina; Teredo japonica; Teredo sinesis; Teredo pocilliformis; Teredo borealis; Teredo beachi

Potentially Misidentified As:

Bankia gouldi; Teredo bartschi; Teredo furcufera; Nototeredo knoxi; Psiloteredo megotara

Common Names:

Naval Shipworm; Common Shipworm; European Shipworm


Species Name -Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758.

Synonymy - P. teredo Mueller 1776; T. vulgaris Lamarack 1801; T. sellii van der Hoeven 1850; S. marina Jeffreys 1860; T. japonica Clessin 1893; T. beachii Bartsch 1921; T. beaufortana Bartsch 1922; T. novagliae Bartsch 1922; T. sinensis Roch 1929; T. pocilliformis Roch 1931; T. borealis Roch 1931.

Potentially Misidentified Species - Psiloteredo megotara (as Teredo megotara) Hanley and Nototeredo knoxi Bartsch (as Teredo sigerfoosi) have been identified from test panels exposed from the Chesapeake lightship (36 degrees, 59 minutes N. Lat.; 75 degrees 42 minutes W. Long.) (Brown 1953).

This data was last modified on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013.
Databases Overview| Chesapeake Bay |