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Bearded fireworm

Bearded fireworm

A highly conspicuous worm with red gills and toxic white bristles on each segment. It feeds on the soft tissue of corals and sea anemones and is readily observed on reef rubble in shallow water, under stones, and on the coral reef. Though slow moving it is highly mobile and forages out in the open. When disturbed, the worm flares out the bristles so they are more exposed and ready to detach. Wear protective footwear while wading on the reef flat and in the shallows and avoid contact. The venom-filled bristles are easily shed and cause an intense, burning, long-lasting irritation. Recommended First Aid for stings is to remove bristles from the victim’s skin with tweezers or adhesive tape and apply vinegar to the wound to help with pain relief.

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