Possibly Cthulu
August 16, 2011 6:29 PM   Subscribe

What are these writhing green worms I found under a rock at low tide?

My first guess was that they were the intestines of some kind of creature that digests things externally, but they didn't seem to belong to anything nearby. Are they just really weird worms?

Sorry for the occasionally shaky/out-of-focus video.
posted by Rinku to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea what that stuff is but it's exactly what I imagine gillyweed would look like. I'm totally creeped out that it's real.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:00 PM on August 16, 2011

Based on the mussel shells and crappy rock beach (and your location), I'm going to assume you're in the PNW. It looks just like the pictures of "green leaf worms" found in Europe, but it's probably not that. Could you see if it was segmented like a regular worm? Did it have creepy, hairy things growing around it?
It could be a regular sea worm that came loose and floated to shore. Or it could be a ravenous killing annelid.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:22 PM on August 16, 2011

Those both look like loner-type worms, fiercekitten, and this was like a little ball of writhing green living angelhair pasta. It was a whole bunch of things squirming all over each other, rather than a single animal. I think.
posted by Rinku at 7:34 PM on August 16, 2011

And yeah, location is outside of Seattle.
posted by Rinku at 7:35 PM on August 16, 2011

Maybe a clam (or pile) worm? Some photos from this page if you follow the links, though nothing green. I've seen those same worms on beaches in the area.
posted by maxwelton at 8:25 PM on August 16, 2011

Maybe some kind of eel?
posted by brujita at 9:31 PM on August 16, 2011

I'm thinking maybe Emplectonema gracile:
A fairly common species on rocky shores. Occurs intertidally beneath stones and boulders on coarse muddy silt, shelly gravel or silty sand, in rock crevices and clefts, in cavities in boulders, in mussel beds or among the holdfasts of laminarians. Mostly occupying the mid- to lower-shore levels, the species may occasionally be found crawling between barnacles high up the shore when the tide is out. Copious amounts of a thick and sticky mucus are secreted when the animal is disturbed, and fine particles of mud or silt may adhere to the mucus to form a tube in which the animal rests. Among algal holdfasts or beneath boulders Emplectonema gracile is most frequently found with its body in a knotted tangle which is extraordinarily difficult to unravel without rupturing it. (cite)
posted by hades at 12:18 AM on August 17, 2011

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