Scientists have discovered more evidence proving that a poisonous and highly dangerous worm is now living in the UK.
The horrific beastie is called Cephalothrix simula and ‘contains neurotoxins that are potentially fatal if they enter the human body’.
Researchers from the University of Southampton found the monster lurking in the coastal waters of southern England.
The deadly worm usually lives in the north-western Pacific and has been found thriving on Japanese beaches.
But the species now crept into European waters and are slowly conquering the UK too.
It was one of 18 non-indigenous species spotted during tests of marinas in Southampton Water, Anglesey, The Bristol Channel and the River Blackwater.
A new technique involving the detection of ‘environmental DNA’ was used to detect the creatures.
Scientists analysed water for traces of sperm, eggs or any other debris such as fish scales which indicates the presence of species.
Luke Holman, a PhD researcher who found the worms, said: ‘We are enormously excited about the potential for eDNA in the detection of invasive species.
‘This initial work gives us confidence that the technique could be invaluable both for catching invasions early on and also for monitoring the success of eradication efforts.’
Previous studies of the Pacific Death Worm indicate that it contains enough poison to kill a human.
In a paper published in the journal Marine Drugs last year detailing the first discovery of the worm in England, researchers warned: ‘The species has been associated with high levels of the marine neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin, traditionally associated with Pufferfish Poisoning.’
The pufferfish is a famous species containing enough poison to kill 30 humans and is considered a delicacy in Japan.
Invasive species have many ways of coming to the UK.
They are often carried on ship hulls or in ballast water tanks aboard ships travelling internationally. The would-be conquerors can also come here hidden among live oysters or fish imported to farms here in Britain.