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Mysterious drop in prized bait worms threatens a way of life


WOOLWICH, Maine — A mysterious drop in the harvest of two of the most popular worms for sport fishermen is proving expensive for anglers and threatening a way of life in Maine.

Maine harvesters are by far the largest suppliers of bloodworms and sandworms in the U.S. Harvesters called wormers dig the wriggling creatures out of coastal muck so they can be sold to fishermen all over the world.

But the harvest is in decline. Maine’s catch of bloodworms has dropped from more than 600,000 pounds in 2004 to less than 300,000 pounds last year. Sandworms dipped by two thirds, to less than 130,000 pounds.

Scientists say a number of factors could play a role in the decline in the harvest, including a rise in predators that eat the worms.

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