Mystery solved: Sea creatures with toxic bristles floated to Eastern NC on a coconut

Nc Sea Creature
Worms found on NC Beach in July 2022 (Photo: NC Museum of Natural Sciences/Facebook)

Researchers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have identified the “weird things on the beach” found by rangers at Cape Lookout National Seashore just over a week ago as polychaete worms.

There are more than 10,000 species of polychaete, or bristle worms, including fireworms and sea mice.


The scientist said it’s a good idea not to touch these or other creatures that was up on the beach without knowing what they are, because the bristles on these worms are coated in toxins and can cause skin irritation.

Bristle worms usually end up on the beach by floating along on ocean debris; in the case of this mystery, the worms used a coconut.

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Categories: Carolinas, NC, NC, NC-Carolinas