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Angler catches bizarre sea creature, luckily doesn’t touch it

Angler catches bizarre sea creature, luckily doesn’t touch it

While pier fishing with her mother, Alyssa Ramirez thought a piece of seaweed had tangled with her bait when she reeled it in, until she saw it squirming. She had caught a bizarre sea creature, one you could call hazardous to your health.

“My mom and I looked at each other like, ‘What is that?’” Ramirez told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors. “I laughed because that was definitely not a fish.”

Ramirez made the odd catch on Saturday from a pier in Port Isabel, Texas, and later, curious to know what it was, sent video to Texas Parks and Wildlife and asked officials to identify it, which they did Wednesday.

Luckily, Ramirez hadn’t touched the sea creature.

As it turns out, it was a bearded fireworm, which can inject a powerful neurotoxin from its tiny bristles on its flanks that can result in a wound that feels like it’s on fire, and the pain can last for hours.

Luckily I didn’t have to touch it because it let go of my bait,” Ramirez said. “By the way it moved and the red colors it had, I knew not to touch it. I placed it on the rail of the pier I took video and pictures of it…It wiggled around for a few minutes and then it then fell into the water by itself.”

Also on FTW Outdoors: Spearfisherman dragged out to sea by great white shark

From the Animal Kingdom, the word aposematism comes to mind. It’s the advertising by an animal to predators that it is not worth eating, that it could be foul tasting or, in this case, toxic, and bright colors are an indicator.

Science and the Sea’s described a bearded fireworm:

It’s generally no more than a few inches long, but one touch can be a big problem…

The bearded fireworm is found in warm, shallow waters in and around the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico. It looks a bit like a fuzzy caterpillar. Its body can be green, orange, or other bright colors, and small tufts of white bristles line its sides, creating the “fuzzy” appearance.

This one was “a good 3 inches long,” Ramirez said, and it apparently liked squid. That’s what they were using for bait.

Fortunately, the bizarre sea creature wasn’t the only thing they caught that day. They also landing a couple of (not quite as exciting) whiting fish.

Photos courtesy of Alyssa Ramirez.

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