CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina museum workers identified some strange creatures they found recently.
Back in July, members of the turtle patrol team with the Cape Lookout National Seashore found the creatures on the coast next to a log covered in barnacles.
Last week, researchers with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences helped solve the mystery and identified the creatures as polychaete worms belonging to the Family Amphinomidae, which also includes fireworms and sea mice.
They are known as “bristle worms” because of their thick bunches of seta that resemble hair and are coated in toxins and can cause skin irritation.
Bristle worms usually end up on the beach by rafting along ocean debris. In the case of this mystery, the worms used a coconut.
The worms grow on objects floating in the open ocean, so researchers say it’s almost impossible to say where they came from.