Where and what exactly lived in the Maltese waters? This was on my mind for the first 5 minutes of my first dive, then suddenly, the guide pointed out the first sighting of life underwater that was not grass or rock!
What is a Fireworm
I was hoping to see something large, but it turned out to be a small looking caterpillar. I had no clue as to what I was looking at! This critter had a red and black stripy tinge on its back, the legs looked so soft and fluffy and even if you contemplated on counting how many legs it had, you would most certainly run out of gas before you reached a final amount. It moved so slowly or didn’t move at all. You would have thought it was dead!
What is a FirewormWhat is a Fireworm
Are Fireworms dangerous
This small but intriguing critter is known as the ‘Fireworm’ or ‘Bearded Worm’. Looks are deceiving as I thought it had soft and fluffy legs, but it turned out they’re not too soft to the touch. The million tiny white “fluffy” legs they have, when flared out, can penetrate human skin and they inject a very powerful neurotoxin into the area, which causes intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the same area of contact. Who would have thought such a cute critter could be so vicious!
Having never seen an animal quite like this before, I obviously had to do some marine life research, so I knew what I was up against! I came across quite an impressive book of the “Mediterranean & Atlantic Fish Guide" as well as the "Mediterranean & Atlantic Invertebrate Guide" and was hooked. These books became my bedtime story, “A fish study a day keeps the doctor away”.
Once reading up upon the Fireworm, I started noticing them everywhere and on every dive. They were hidden in amongst the rocky terrain, on the sand, attached to the seagrass, along reef walls but what surprised me most, was the fact that they were hungry predators that eat off dead organisms. The slowest predators imaginable but vicious none the less.
Fish Identification Specialty
The best way to learn about this fish, its habitat, and surrounding is to take your Fish Identity Specialty with either Divewise or New Dimension Scuba. We know how to find them and photograph them before they zoom off…
Written by: Amy-Sarah Lottering