The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

Beware: This little fellow could cause you some pain

Tuesday, 9 July 2019, 09:46 Last update: about 5 months ago

If you are passing by environments such as corals, rocks, mud or sand in Malta, then you might come across an elusive Mediterranean Bearded Fireworm.

With a few photos being shared on social media, the elusive marine bristleworm can be distinguished from other many legged creatures and its non-Mediterranean relative by the its white bristles, and red or orange gills.


The body of the worm usually consists of multiple segments, around 60 to 150 identical ones, each separated from each other by a thin white line and protected by cuticles.

They can be found along coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and Mediterranean Sea in shallow water from the surface to 40 meters deep.

Although small and slow, the bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin and inject a powerful neurotoxin and produce intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact.

This leads to a feeling of nausea and dizziness for a few hours and continued painful tingling around the area of contact.

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