It’s always a joy to be introduced to creatures that show us firsthand just how much stranger reality truly is than fiction. Unlike cryptids like Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, Chupacabra, the Mongolian death worm or Loch Ness, the bobbit worm is horrifyingly real. WIRED has a feature today spotlighting this grim reaper of the sea.
The bobbit worm (or Eunice aphroditois) is perhaps the most nightmarish of benthic predators, stalking its prey while burrowed deep into the ocean floor. Their frames can grow as long as ten feet, which the majority of the time is coiled underneath ocean sediment. From the inconspicuous confines of live rock and coral, the worm uses its hyper-heightened antennae to seek out everything from lionfish and grouper to octopus several times its size, striking with overwhelming force.
In the video below you can see its lunge-and-gobble move in action as the worm targets a rather large octopus.
The octopus is pulled underneath the surface and into the worm’s lair, but then curiously escapes. It’s believed that what the bobbit worm lacks in vision it makes up for with its ultra-sensitive antennae, razor-sharp teeth and vertiginous attack velocity. It’s likely the worm was hunting for fish and not other delicacy like octopus.
Clearly this is not a creature you’d want to snorkel over to for a closer look. It may mistake you for common prey, and its sharp teeth have the habit of eviscerating its victims in a fraction of a second. Here’s another clip capturing the sheer force and speed of this enigmatic bottom-dweller.
We know far too little about this and other oceanic beasts, though aquarium owners have been terrorized by these uninvited stowaways for years. WIRED shares one such harrowing tale: