June 29 around 8 PM EST (within 40 minutes after downpour) the depicted trace was found in swash zone at Jacob Riis Park in NY. For reference the boot size is 12.

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2 Answers 2


This is almost exactly the opposite of what you think it is - it is actually from a burrowing animal, so instead of flying, it is actually burrowing into the sub-surface liquifaction layer of the sand and leaving behind this imprint.

I think (correct me if I am wrong), but it is likely that the start of the burrow is the depression above your toe and the mound is above where it is hiding. If you look closely at the mound you will see a flat surface that is probably an egress point and possibly breathing hole too. If you come across a similar structure in the future, you can dig down below the mound rapidly and come across the animal that built it.

I don't know exactly which animal made this burrow, but I would guess from the form that it is a crab, certainly some form of invertebrate.

I had a fairly extensive search, but couldn't find any sea-shore guides for NY state that cover animal tracks unfortunately.

  • you make sense about burrowing origin of trace terminals. I will dig "mound" terminal next time I encounter this type of trace. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 15:52
  • I would second the suspicion that this is an invertebrate, and would specifically point towards something from the genus Emerita (also known as mole crabs or sand fleas) as I know from personal experience that there are a couple of species extant in that general area (I used to dig them up as a kid when my family went on summer vacations to Long Beach Island in NJ) and they leave tracks similar to this. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 17:17
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    I realise mole crab is probably more likely than my answer. Here is a video of a mole crab I found: youtu.be/S3NK_W4KdzQ
    – daign
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 8:03
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    Instead of digging in the mound, could just also leave the poor thing alone.
    – pipe
    Commented Jul 4, 2020 at 2:27
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    Especially because the sandworm might be bigger than you think. Read/watch Dune. Commented Jul 4, 2020 at 14:34

I too think it's from a burrowing animal. Instead of crab I would say it is some kind of lugworm/sandworm.

I found this similar image:

enter image description here


The keywords for this image contain "Wattwurm" = lugworm, though the image might be mislabeled.

  • 2
    you make sense about burrowing origin of trace terminals although traces do not look like anything that Google Images know about lugworm. I have another artifact that looks more like Google's "lugworm": baked-in pile of rigid tubes. I will dig "mound" terminal next time I encounter this type of trace. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 16:00

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