Blackpool pier’s mysterious brown ‘alien brains’ which have perplexed locals explained by scientist

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

“Never in my life saw anything like that, lived in Blackpool all my life, I am 75 now”

 

The brown mounds discovered under a Blackpool pier that have been likened to "alien brains"
The brown mounds discovered under a Blackpool pier that have been likened to “alien brains” (Image: Linda Cox)

Blackpool residents have been left amazed at giant brown mounds likened to ‘alien brains’ which have formed underneath one of the beach’s piers.

In the past week, several giant clumps have been discovered growing in the sand on the waterfront.

A photograph of the structures emerged on social media on Saturday (October 16) with local people saying they’d never seen anything like it in the time they’ve lived in Blackpool.

 

One man on Facebook commented: “Back in the 1960/70s, l often went down to the piers at low tide to catch crabs for angling and never saw anything like this.”

Another woman said: “Never in my life saw anything like that, lived in Blackpool all my life, I am 75 now, moved to Spain a couple of years ago but miss the people, the views and my old buddies.”

Another added: “They are obviously alien brains and prove that we are being visited regularly by little green men” with one man also saying they were “Like a Chemical Brothers video.”

The brown mounds are actually honeycomb “reefs” that have been formed by a large group of worms.

The Honeycomb Worm, also know as Sabellaria alveolata, is a filter feeder that extends its tentacles into the water when the tide is in to catch floating particles of plankton.

They mainly live on the shoreline and build hummock-shaped reefs on anything from rocks to coastal structures – such as a pier.

Living close together, the worms form a “reef” that has tubes that take on a hexagonal shapes giving them their ‘honeycomb’ appearance.

Close up of Honeycomb Tube Worm (Sabellaria alveolata) encrusting a rocky shore at mid-tide level
Close up of Honeycomb Tube Worm (Sabellaria alveolata) encrusting a rocky shore at mid-tide level (Image: Getty Images)

They need a hard substance to settle on however and plenty of sand to create their homes.

Chairman of the Lancashire Marine Conservation Society, Dr Barry Kaye, said: “These are Honeycomb worm reefs, larger mounds, or ‘reefs’, of this sort are common around Morecambe Bay, and one of the type species for that area.

“They do not form such large reefs in many other places. The reefs come and go when local conditions favour the worm.

“Similar ‘reefs’ were discovered from earlier in the year at Bispham.”

To view the that were discovered, please visit the Marine Conservation Society website here.