TERRIFYING images shows the moment a stunned angler confronts a freaky sea creature whose sting can cause hours of agonising pain.
Alyssa Ramirez landed the bizarre beast while fishing with her mother at Port Isabel, Texas – but initially thought she had pulled up a piece of seaweed when she reeled in her catch.
But to her horror, she then she saw the beast squirming.
Alyssa commented: “When I didn’t feel any bites I assumed the fish had taken my bait – squid – and I reeled in my line to re-bait the hook.
“At first glance I thought I snagged some seaweed. Then I laughed because that was definitely not a fish, nor seaweed. It was like an oversized earthworm ready for combat.”
After pulling up her line, Ms Ramirez watched the creature squirming on the pier decking.
The creature’s dangerous bristles were seen to be fanning in and out as its red and white body writhes on the floor.
“It had the movement of a worm but with prickly spikes with red tips,” she added.
“I was extremely curious about it – I’m a marine life enthusiast – so I decided to record it and snap a few pictures, and send them to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.”
Experts believe the catch could be a bearded fireworm – and if so Ms Ramirez should count herself lucky that she didn’t touch it.
It carries a powerful neurotoxin, delivered through bristles that are capable of penetrating human skin.
The resulting wound is said to feel like it is on fire, with the pain lasting for hours and sometimes causing nausea and dizziness.