Bizarre find in shallow water on Aussie beach: 'Thought it was a toilet brush'

The strange creature resembling a carrot had been dislodged from the sediment, an expert told Yahoo News.

A bizarre sea creature found in the shallow water on the shore of a picturesque beach in Far North Queensland has left some Aussies stumped.

The “great sighting” on Newell Beach, north of Cairns, stopped a woman in her tracks on Thursday. Puzzled, she took to social media to ask for help identifying the carrot-shaped object.

A photo shows a long orange stem with what appear to be tentacles resembling a chainsaw protruding from the top.

The sea pen seen in the shallow water on a beach in Far North Queensland.
The strange creature was seen on a beach in Far North Queensland this week. Source: Facebook

“What the heck?” one person responded on the Facebook group dedicated to wildlife. “Yes I’m definitely staying out of the waters,” another added, while a third joked, “I genuinely thought that was a toilet brush for a hot minute”.

Creature revealed to be sea pen

While one enthusiast suggested the creature was a peanut worm — a burrowing marine worm with a mouth — Merrick Ekins with the Queensland Museum told Yahoo News Australia the creature is in fact a sea pen.

“It’s a sea pen, or was a sea pen now dislodged from the sediment,” the Collection Manager, Sessile Marine Invertebrates said. “It’s most likely a Pteroeides species.

Sea pens are a marine invertebrate in the same class of animals as anemones and corals. The stalk of a sea pen remains buried in sediment while the feather-like array of polyps are arranged in rows above, for food collection and for pumping water.”

Sea pens, which feast on drifting plankton and can grow up to 46cm long, are not harmful to pick up but are “spiky”, Mr Ekins added. They are also octocorals, meaning each poly has eight tentacles and can glow bright green when stimulated, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

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