Toxic Worms Threaten Beachgoers at Popular Holiday Spots

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.10 - 2024 10:18 AM CET

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Toxic sea creatures are turning holiday havens into danger zones.

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The usually tranquil beaches of Sicily, Apulia, and Calabria in Southern Italy are now witnessing an influx of fireworms, venomous sea creatures that resemble harmless, colorful centipedes.

But don't let their appearance fool you—these creatures can pose a serious threat to humans, turning beach holidays into a risky adventure.

This phenomenon was recently reported by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

Fireworms, also known as Hermodice carunculata, have poisonous bristles that can cause severe reactions upon contact.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Unseen Dangers Beneath the Waves

The National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS) in Trieste has issued warnings about the risks these sea worms present.

According to the OGS, the toxins in the bristles can lead to symptoms such as swelling, itching, and numbness, potentially ruining beachgoers' experiences.

These worms primarily inhabit rocky seabeds and seagrass beds, but they have been found in sandy areas as well.

Their ability to blend into their surroundings makes them especially dangerous, as unsuspecting swimmers and sunbathers might easily come into contact with them.

Researchers and scientists are actively working on strategies to manage these invasive fireworms.

The presence of Hermodice carunculata in such large numbers is uncommon, and their impact on local ecosystems and human health is a growing concern.

"We are trying to understand the reasons behind their sudden increase in numbers and looking for effective ways to control their spread," an OGS scientist stated.

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