12 February 2012

Unusual life form filmed with sewer cam

It's a group of annelid worms, not a bryozoan, and it is definitely bizarre.

Update: Anonymous posted a thread from Metafilter with a suggestion that this is a viral promotional video. But a link there led me to another link at DeepSeaNews that had this comment from a bryozoologist:
Thanks for the video – I had not see it before. No, these are not bryozoans! They are clumps of annelid worms, almost certainly tubificids (Naididae, probably genus Tubifex). Normally these occur in soil and sediment, especially at the bottom and edges of polluted streams. In the photo they have apparently entered a pipeline somehow, and in the absence of soil they are coiling around each other. The contractions you see are the result of a single worm contracting and then stimulating all the others to do the same almost simultaneously, so it looks like a single big muscle contracting. Interesting video.
Second ipdate, from a reader of the blog:
This ID makes sense to me, especially after I reviewed the video again, because I've *seen* this behavior in clumps of tubifex worms. As a fishkeeper for about 20 years... my refrigerator was never without an open plastic bowl full of live tubifex worms, which make the greatest fish food ever. Since the bowl gave them nothing to hang onto, they would form a big clump wrapped around each other. And every time I opened the refrigerator door, the sudden light on the worms would cause the whole clump to contract, then slowly expand out again, just like we saw in the video. I now suspect that the movement featured in the video was caused by the camera light -- if you watch, you'll notice that it most often occurs immediately after the camera has shifted position.
One other explanation I read suggested that it is the heat from the light, not the light per se, that twiggers the propagating twitch.

(Reposted from 2009 to accompany an adjacent post).


  1. Those things seriously creep me out.

  2. Umm . . . ewwww.

    I agree. I'm creeped out.

  3. I think I'd have been happier if I hadn't watched that video.

  4. Stan,

    Do you actually just know this stuff or do you have to look it up? Because if you just know this stuff I bow to your incredible cornucopia of knowledge.

  5. @Anonymous - I know a little, but I have a computer, so I look things up. In addition, when I don't know something I just ask a question, and someone visiting the blog will typically come up with an answer within a couple hours.

    I've learned a heck of a lot of things by blogging various topics.

  6. As a part of my job, i've spent a fair bit of time watching live video from inside sewers, drains, and other underground pipes. Contrary to popular belief, the pipes beneath our feet are not generally full of hordes of rats and alligators, or if they are, they have the power of both invisibility and not leaving footprints. Strange translucent spiders are quite common, but I've yet to meet a bryozoan.... and if I'd been operating that camera... AAARGH! That's a freaky thing.... reminds me of those old horror movies with entities that creep under doors... I'd be calling up Mulder and Scully, or the Men in Black.
    Argh! I really don't expect to see sewer blobs wink at me!

  7. "As a part of my job, i've spent a fair bit of time watching live video from inside sewers, drains, and other underground pipes..." I won't ask what you do, but it must be an interesting job.

  8. According to this discussion on Metafilter http://www.metafilter.com/82902/Sewer-Creatures, the consensus is that it is a viral video, possibly a promotion for a horror movie. Just saying.

  9. Actually its not a bryozoa


    check out this discussion. they contacted a bryozoa expert and he explains that it's actually worms.

    yep worms

  10. @Quinty - I posted the correction as an addendum, but forgot to amend the first sentence. Thanks for the heads-up; now it's fixed.

  11. Yup - Worms:


  12. That's just about the grossest thing I've ever seen. Could've done without ever seeing that! I need a kittycat chaser.....

  13. Why this looks familiar... ;)


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