Something dead washed up on North Carolina’s barrier islands, and experts at Cape Lookout National Seashore admit the discovery has left them searching for answers.
The park is now asking the public for ideas.
Two of the creatures were found, each resembling 6-inch-long black worms — but with bristles.
“Weird things found on the beach,” the park wrote in a July 19 Facebook post. “We need some help identifying these objects.”
“Our turtle patrol found them on the ocean side beach recently adjacent to a log covered in goose-neck barnacles. (No idea if they are connected to the log or if its just a coincidence.) So far, we’re stumped as to what they might be.”
Cape Lookout National Seashore is the southernmost part of the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. The park is just south of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Park staff suspect the creatures may be “a form of sea cucumber” or possibly a sea slug.
“But they couldn’t be matched to any images that were posted online,” officials wrote.
“Has anyone seen anything like this along the North Carolina coast (that’s the western Atlantic Ocean) before?”
The Outer Banks are located at a spot where warm Gulf Stream waters collide with the cold Labrador Current, with the resulting mix known to occasionally dump exotic creatures on beaches. However, most of the discoveries are quickly identified as non-native species from the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea or other parts of the Atlantic.
Commenters on the Facebook post have yet to reach a consensus, but suggestions include bristle worms, black sea cucumbers or fireworms, a sea creature known to have venom-filled bristles.
Others have wondered if the discoveries are parts of something much bigger.
Several warned park staff not to touch them with bare hands.
“Kinda looks like (the) creature that popped out of that man’s stomach in the movie Alien,” Timothy Johnson wrote.
This story was originally published July 20, 2022 8:05 AM.
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