By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: It was a passion with a difference for a senior bureaucrat to track down migrating blue worms of Umstew riverbed.
The Additional Chief Secretary PBO Warjri had to cancel his planned visit to the Shad Suk Mynsiem celebrations at Weiking Ground on April 15 to search for the blue worms all the way to Wah Umstew through Mawlyngot village under Mawkynrew Block around 50 kms from here.
Wah Umstew joins with Wah Umsong to make a tributary of Wah Umngot flowing in the valleys between the areas of Mawkynrew Block and Pynursla Block, in the areas of Mawlyngot, Rasong and Rangphlang villages.
“When I heard about blue worms, I immediately imagined things in some far off lands in Africa or South America. We have perhaps been given to think of animals and strange creatures living only in such places. I was thrilled when I was told in January of this year, while on a visit to Nohron and Nongryngkoh, about worms which migrate in these areas”, Warjri said here on Wednesday.
He mentioned that further queries led to the realization that these were blue worms adding that he was informed that they migrate to the uplands in the spring and move back to the warmer low altitudes before winter sets in.
“The worms live under this river bed during the winter preferring the moist surroundings. At the new moon on April 12, they began emerging and the villagers knew that this was also a sign that rain was coming”, the senior bureaucrat said.
Highlighting his experience, Warjri stated that they saw several clumps of these worms and there were thousands of them in two such clumps on the river bed under fallen leaves or stones. The young ones were red but the mature ones, some about one foot long were rich blue. Small stones or leaves under which they had collected would move, as they twirled among each other. “Such was the energy in the clumps,” he added.
Interestingly, the next day (April 16), the rain came down heavily and the villagers informed that the worms had started marching up into the hills. “Birds and fish would have a great feast on such occasions,” he said.
He further said that the ones which survive would multiply in the fields above, fertilize the soil for the vegetables and fruits, returning as an army in the month of October towards warm areas under the river beds in winter.
The migration in October is reportedly so heavy that people avoid going to the fields on such days as the surface would be slippery with the worms covering the ground.
“There was no way of stopping them as they obeyed their natural urge to migrate, dropping down steep inclines in chains as they clung to each other,” said the senior bureaucrat.