On beaches throughout the world, there are thousands of living creatures hiding just beneath the surface of the sand. While most remain too small or too deeply burrowed to be spotted by beach visitors, others make their presence known in the most spectacular ways.

Coquina clams, which can be found on many tropical and temperate beaches worldwide, congregate in densely-packed groups where the sand meets the sea. While few animals can survive in surf zones, the hardy little clams survive by digging themselves into the wet sand. When they emerge periodically to feed, they do so in unison, appearing spontaneously in a way that is both fascinating and mildly unsettling.

Beach-goer and YouTube user paul-E recently recorded the spectacle of coquina clams appearing, seemingly from nowhere, to feed. In the short video, an empty patch of sand suddenly transforms into a massive coquina clam feeding ground. The tiny filter feeders let the tide wash over them, picking up microscopic plankton from the water.

“At first I thought they were dead but then a full wave cycle exposed the Coquina's rabid feeding behavior,” says paul-E. “The ritual repeated on each major tidal wave, about once per minute, when thousands and thousands of Coquina, all along the miles of beach stretch, were synchronized in nature's perfect order.” Check it out above.

[h/t Digg]

Banner Image Credit: paul-E, YouTube