Beachgoer stunned by 'alien' creature with tentacles found near Aussie airport

The creature, a ribbon worm, was compared to something from Netflix's Stranger Things.

A bizarre find on an Aussie coast has sent shivers down the spines of many for its otherworldly appearance.

One fisherman found the strange creature near the water behind Cairns Airport in Far North Queensland. "Government releasing some weird s**t into the waters behind the airport," the man joked alongside footage of iridescent tentacle-like arms extending like a web from a long, red worm and grabbing onto a rock.

With many online likening the worm to an "alien" or something from "The Upside Down" in Netflix's Stranger Things — what really is this strange marine animal?

Left image of a faint red ribbon worm in shallow water. Right image of a ribbon worm's proboscis, an organ which extends from their body.
There are approximately 900 known species of ribbon worms. Source: Getty/TikTok

Creature is a type of marine worm

Dr Tina Skinner from Queensland University told Yahoo News Australia that while she is not sure of the exact species, it is likely a ribbon worm — known as Nemertea. "It looks like a ribbon worm — you can see the main red body part and head — that is using its eversible proboscis (all the white stuff) to feed," she said.

Skinner explains that the proboscis is an organ that these carnivores extend from their body to hunt and catch prey, though they also extend it when they're stressed.

There are approximately 900 known species of Nemertea that come in various colours and patterns. They have varied distributions and habitats but are found across the world, according to an article in the Australian Geographic. Most often found in the ocean, many species can grow more than a metre long.

Possibly more shocking than even their proboscis, ribbon worms are said to be able to regenerate body parts, including their head.

Is the ribbon worm poisonous?

Some species of ribbon worms are poisonous and may excrete toxins, so touching them is definitely not recommended.

"Some species have been found to have the toxin tetrodotoxin, which is the famous one found in pufferfish," Skinner revealed.

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