Ice worms spotted in Cordova city limits?

Mystery worm has some folks puzzled

A small black worm resembling an ice worm was spotted in the snow near Observation Avenue on Thursday, Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Jane Phillips
A small black worm resembling an ice worm was spotted in the snow near Observation Avenue on Thursday, Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Jane Phillips

A number of small black “ice worms” have been spotted in Cordova just after Cordova’s annual Iceworm Festival.

Cordova residents Jane Phillips and her brother Dean Curran found several wriggling through the snow near Observation Avenue as well as at the high school on Thursday, Feb. 6. Bobby Scribner, Trails Coordinator at the US Forest Service, Cordova Ranger District, also shared similar sightings with coworker Erin Cole. Knowing that the ice worm Mesenchytraeus solifugus hasn’t been found by scientists farther than 100 yards away from glacial snowpack, Cole followed up with local hydrologist and ice worm aficionado Luca Adelfio.

“There is a fatter, longer black worm that is frequently seen on the snow around here,” Adelfio said. “It isn’t a ‘true’ ice worm. I don’t know the species name. Kinda fun to find worms in the snow either way!”

The true ice worm is about the width of a penny and up to three centimeters long.

“Hopefully that solves the mystery a little,” Cole said. “I’ll bet we know more about the worms this time next year.”

The US Forest Service recently hosted a hike on Sheridan Glacier Trail to celebrate the elusive ice worm. An informational display on the little-known creatures was featured at the district office during the 60th Iceworm Festival.