Green Alien Slime.
Latin Name: Metabonellia Haswelli.
Common Name: Green spoon worm
If you wait until the sun goes down and don your scuba gear for a mysterious night dive you may be lucky enough to come across what the diving community calls Green Alien Slime! With long, slender green arms that end with a fork like appendage similar to the tongue of a snake, they protrude from beneath rocks all over Sydney only emerging at night. At first sight they look innocent enough. Keep the light on them however and you will notice the odd green appendages rapidly retract back beneath the rocks, leaving you to wonder if they were ever there in the first place. The strange slime definitely makes you do a double take the first time they are spotted, with the main body hidden beneath the rock ledges you may never see the weird creature itself.
So what actually is Green Alien Slime? The scientific name Metabonellia Haswelli is the fancy way of saying Green Spoon Worm. This invertebrate is an internally segmented worm with a body size of around 6cms, it uses a long tongue to feed on particles falling out of suspension within the water column. Found under ledges and beneath rocks from shallow depths to beneath twenty metres, they are usually only spotted by the keen naturalist diver during night dives. Although they may appear to be dangerous, these worms are harmless. Whilst you should never disturb any marine life, if you happen to come in contact with a Green Spoon Worm without gloves on don’t be alarmed when your hands stain green… It’s just a sign you’ve been slimed!
When I first discovered these spoon worms, I eagerly tugged at my rattle and grabbed my dive buddy willing them to have a look. Unfortunately, by the time they turned around and hastily dragged over to the strange creature’s place, the long tongue had vanished beneath the rocks. An embarrassing moment all divers know when you turn and give the “I don’t know” shrug. A sense of intrigue fills you as thoughts of what creature did that mysterious arm/tongue belong too? Is it dangerous? How big is the actual animal? The more I looked the more they appeared and still to this day they form an exciting part of my night dives, especially in Botany Bay where their abundance is ample.
Sydney dive sites always reveal new and amazing flora and fauna with every dive. Keep your eyes out and the amount of life from worms to sponges, crabs to eels and rays to fish will always amaze you. Take photos and notes about those interesting new animals or plants you’ve spotted and there will be someone who can tell you the intricate details of what you have come across. So whether you are an underwater naturalist or just enjoy the real world aquarium get out there and go diving!