The Worm of Death, aka ugliest thing in the sea
I am sure that everyone has caught a fish at some stage and thought, “What the ….!”
Most of the time people will simply throw the unknown fish back without a second thought.
Curiosity by a fisherman several years ago resulted in one such oddity being brought into the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT (MAGNT).
Excitingly it was the first and only one of its kind in the museum’s collection.
The worm-like creature’s unusual characteristics made further identification difficult, the main features being its big teeth, no eyes, and tiny little fins.
Now believed to be a worm goby belonging to one of the largest fish families in the world, it looks to be a new species and possibly even a new genus.
The mud-dwelling “alienlike” fish has sensory sockets instead of eyes and sneaks out of burrows to catch prey.
Since the capture of one of these fish, its true identity has continued to baffle.
Dr Michael Hammer curator of fishes at MAGNT is doing genetics and X-rays to discover more.
A second accidental capture was made and photographed in 2010 by Phil Hall, also in Darwin Harbour, who said “It was snapping quite aggressively at our fingers when we were unhooking it, hence we gave it the name Worm of Death!”
This is a great example how anglers can get involved in species discovery by reporting their chance captures, they just need to mind their fingers!