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Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

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Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby clmbr » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:43 pm

Anyone knows anything about ¼" (8-10 mm) black worms living in the water streams high on Mt Shasta? Are there any hazardous to human health once swallowed?

I've called Mt Shasta Ranger Station and am waiting for a call back with any info.

The worms were found in quite a huge number existing in the water stream around 10,000 feet in the Hotlum/Boolam Ridge camp sites area.

I'm concern about this warms because I've might swallowed a few of them before my buddy discovered them in his (crystal clear) bottle. After that we were boiling the water before drinking it. The alive worms were usually falling to the bottom of the container and boiled went to the top.

Unfortunately, I camped at the same place in August (between 28-30) and was drinking that water without treating it. I did not notice any worms that time but did not look for any. I had no idea that in such cold water at such elevation (especially without any water pools above) such organisms may exist.

Over this weekend many people climb Shasta (including Hotlum/Boolam Ridge and Wintum/Hotlum Ridge) and they've might not treated the water before drinking it. In fact, two climbers camping next to us said that at the Ranger Station they told them that this water was safe for drinking.

I would appreciate any info/help with this issue. THANKS.
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:25 pm

Sounds like ice worms to me. Did they look like this? http://www.ecology.bio.titech.ac.jp/Stu ... eworm1.JPG

If so, I could not find any references in the literature that suggested they might be pathogenic. If they are ice worms, my gut (ha - ha) tells me that they are probably not pathogenic since they will dissolove very quickly in the body as they cannot tolerate temperatures above 41 degrees F. This is just a guess. (FYI, I am a water quality scientist with a focus on waterborne pathogens).
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby clmbr » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:04 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:Sounds like ice worms to me. Did they look like this? http://www.ecology.bio.titech.ac.jp/Stu ... eworm1.JPG

If so, I could not find any references in the literature that suggested they might be pathogenic. If they are ice worms, my gut (ha - ha) tells me that they are probably not pathogenic since they will dissolove very quickly in the body as they cannot tolerate temperatures above 41 degrees F. This is just a guess. (FYI, I am a water quality scientist with a focus on waterborne pathogens).

Thanks, I think you may be right. I googuled before for Black Worms and could not find anything similar. Ice Worms, however, look very much the same. So I'm less worried now.

I attached a few links for those who experienced these worms on Shasta to confirm (or disconfirm) that the worms were identical.

Image
Source: Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/l ... ms21m.html


In this National Geographic video the ice worm is shown between 17-24 secs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKEVe-Y6Wqw

Thanks a lot again. I've learned something new again. I had no idea about existence of Ice Worms not to mention they are so big deal in science, even NASA is very interested in their existence. They are, in fact, very interesting.

Based what I've learned so far they were found no further South than Oregon and live deep in glaciers being able to traverse through ice. They avoid sun, so go deep down before dawn. They disappear ("melt") in a few deg above freezing point.

According to my experience on Shasta, they were present in water stream initiated from, perhaps, permanent snowfield neighboring with Boolam Glacier. They were definitely present in the water stream afternoon. Well, I did not measure the water temperature but don't think it was icy cold. It was, however, from melting snow. On Monday morning I wanted to take a sample of the worms and found none. The water was icy cold. Ice formed overnight in many places along the stream.

So many properties of Shasta's worms are similar to Ice Worms but still somewhat defer.

Hotlum/Bolam Ridge. Arrow shows the (visible) beginning of the water stream.
Image
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby Vitaliy M. » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:20 pm

Did you see any good looking steep ice up there anywhere?
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby mrchad9 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:38 pm

Wicked.

I drank from that same snowfield earlier this year, I think. Though further downslope at the time. Maybe I will bring a bandana for a filter just in case they make an appearance when I visit again.

So did you do the Hotlum Glacier? I would have thought you'd start from Brewer Creek?
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby lcarreau » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:04 am

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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby clmbr » Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:47 am

Vitaliy M. wrote:Did you see any good looking steep ice up there anywhere?

No real water or blue ice. The snow was sometimes harder (depend on time of the day) and few water ice spots existed.

mrchad9 wrote:So did you do the Hotlum Glacier? I would have thought you'd start from Brewer Creek?

We were arriving at dark and my buddy suggested going to the trailhead I’ve been to, in this case North Gate. Then we brought glacier traverse gear to the base camp but had no time for him to practice; he’s never traversed glacier nor climbed with rope. So we decided to do the (safer) ridge.

Because I’ve done it twice a couple weeks ago, at least I wanted to do some variation of it and climbed the slope just above/right of the Hotlum Face. This section, but not the whole, was the most interesting and a bit like ice climbing.

mrchad9 wrote:Maybe I will bring a bandana for a filter just in case they make an appearance when I visit again.

I've used to take coffee filters for more crowded routes besides boiling water. After this experience I will take coffee filters on any route.
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby mauri pelto » Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:51 pm

Ice worms have antifreeze proteins that allow them to survive in glaciers. They do need the glacier they will not be found in simple snowfields. They are not a drinking water hazard our populations counts in the http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/iceworm.htm in the billions on most sizable NC glaciers, and that water is very safe and tasty. We did quite a bit of collecting this summer for medical research.
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby fruitflyman » Mon May 07, 2012 1:28 am

Hey everybody,
this is a general request for anyone who sees ice worms - please get some for me! I am a biologist as well as a climber and I would love to get some samples of these but so far I have not seen any myself. They are supposed to be more abundant in the Cascades but I'd be happy to get them from anywhere. Ideally I'd love to get them alive (a ziplock bag full of snow/ice will keep them alive until the snow melts). I'll be happy to explain more, discuss logistics, etc - please feel free to get in touch with me.
Thank you very much,
Art
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Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby fruitflyman » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:13 am

Fellow climbers, I am bumping this thread in the hope of attracting more attention. If you are heading to Shasta and happen to spot any ice worms - please try to catch some for me! We just collected some on Rainier last week and I'll be on Shasta in a couple of weeks, but these guys are so sporadic that you can never count on seeing them.

They look pretty much as the picture above shows, very small and very black. In heavily overcast weather, you can sometimes see them on the surface of glaciers during the day. In sunny weather, they come out in the shade a couple of hours before sunset and stay up overnight, then burrow down soon after sunrise. Normally you only see them on glaciers, not on snowfields, but sometimes they get washed downstream by glacier-fed streams.

Anyway, if you happen to spot some, please grab some if you can. Keeping them alive required packing them in a ziplock bag or water bottle with lots of snow and keeping them on ice. I will be very happy to explain what they are and what they are for, arrange the logistics to get them from you, etc. By the way, just to confirm what others are saying - they are harmless if swallowed.
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby TimB » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:21 pm

lcarreau wrote:Image



haha! That store is right down the hill from my cabin. The owner is my next door neighbor, even. Small world
:mrgreen:
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby clmbr » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:42 pm

I've been recently on upper Whitney Glacier and did not see any. I think the best chance you have on Bolam Glacier but more specifically in the place I described initially (see pics above). I’ll be going there often soon and pay attention to them.
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Re: Black Worms in water streams on Mt Shasta

Postby fruitflyman » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:26 am

Thanks. I think I know the place - just below Marine Camp? I am hoping to be on Hotlum Glacier the 3rd weekend of August, I'll check out that runoff.
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