By Tim Binnall
An angler in Texas snagged a bizarre-looking sea creature that turned out to be a venomous denizen of the deep. The strange catch was reportedly made by Alyssa Ramirez while she and her mother were fishing on a pier in the coastal city of Port Isabel. During their day out, the woman noticed that she hadn't felt any bites on her line for a while and began reeling it in with the thought that perhaps a clever fish had stolen the bait. However, Ramirez soon realized that she had actually hooked a rather weird creature.
“At first glance, I thought I snagged some seaweed," she recalled, "then I laughed because that was definitely not a fish, nor seaweed." To that end, the creature caught by Ramirez resembled a large worm covered in long, feathery bristles. Adding an almost alien-like element to the oddity's appearance, it was still alive when Ramirez reeled it in and, as such, was undulating in a mesmerizing fashion on the pier, leading the astounded woman to muse that "it was like an oversized earthworm ready for combat."
A self-described "marine life enthusiast," Ramirez was "extremely curious" as to the nature of the puzzling catch. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she decided to record footage of the creature and send it off to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the hopes that they could identify it. Fortunately, she soon received an answer as they indicated that the animal in question was a 'bearded fireworm.'
Further research by Ramirez revealed that the creature's bristles are used to deliver a rather potent neurotoxin which, if it meets human skin, can cause an incredibly painful burning sensation that lasts for hours as well as nausea and dizziness. With that in mind, Ramirez is rather fortunate that she opted to simply document the animal rather than attempt to handle it, since her wondrous encounter with the bearded fireworm would have wound up extremely unpleasant instead.