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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Barry the giant sea worm discovered by aquarium staff after mysterious attacks on coral reef


By Daily Mail Reporter. Last updated at 4:27 PM on 31st March 2009

Aquarium staff have unearthed a 'giant sea' worm that was a
ttacking coral reef and prize fish.

The 4ft long monster, named Barry, had launched a sustained attack on the reef in a display tank at Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium over recent months.

Workers at the Cornwall-based attraction had been left scratching their heads as to why the coral had been left devastated and - in some cases - cut in half.

After staking out the display for several weeks, the last resort was to completely dismantle it, rock by rock.

Halfway through the process the predator wa
s revealed as a four-foot polychaete worm.

Staff eventually lured it out with fish scraps, but not before it bit through 20lb fishing line.

The tropical worm is capable of inflicting permanent numbness on humans with its sting.

Matt Slater, the aquarium's curator, said: 'Somet
hing was guzzling our reef but we had no idea what, we also found an injured Tang Fish so we laid traps but they got ripped apart in the night.

'That worm must have obliterated the traps. The bait was full of hooks which he must have just digested.'

He added: 'It really does look like something out of a horror movie. It's over four feet long with these bizarre-looking jaws.

'We also discovered that he is covered with thousands of bristles which are capable of inflicting a sting resulting in permanent numbness.'

Mr Slater said Barry, who has now been relocated to his own tank, probably arrived as a juvenile in a delivery of living rock from another aquarium.

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