Creatures from the Sewer

The latest viral video is from the sewer under Cameron Village in Raleigh, NC.  The mysterious creatures found are nothing short of disgusting and spectacular.  This video has made its way to Video Sift and various cryptozoology sites.  Speculations on the nature of this creature run from bryozoans, cnidarians, slime molds, and some mysterious alien creature here to suck out our brains. Well let me say first that it is none of the above. I can think of no freshwater Cnidarian that looks anything like this.  It lacks the characteristic delineations that would indicate individual zooids in the colony and frankly the retracting of finger-like tentacles doesn’t seem like a bryozan characteristic (see the pictures at this site). In fact, I have poked a lot of invertebrates as lab instructor for invertebrate zoology and as a graduate student just for shits and giggles and none of the mentioned candidates would respond like this. So back to square one…

You shouldn’t trust me however…you should trust an expert in one of the aforementioned groups.  Enter stage right Dr. Timothy S. Wood who is an expert on freshwater bryozoa and an officer with the International Bryozoology Association.  I sent along the video and this was his reponse…

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.

More video of Tubifex


Dr. M (1628 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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156 comments on “Creatures from the Sewer
  1. Pingback: Eine neue Lebensform? - Seite 2 - Forum des Virtual Racing. e.V.

  2. I’ve read/viewed just about every zoological book and forteana and/or text (in English, mainly) that has been published in the last 50 years or so or even later (this being my only claim to scholarship). There is no record of such an animal (or organism) as this that I can ever recall seeing or reading. This thing is very definitely new – and (worse?) it does not appear to be faked. One of the commentators on this video is definitely right – had the videographer been a biologist, they should have/would have ‘captured’ a specimen in a jar or container of formalin. Even a professional fisherman would have done that. Just send this video to a professional biologist, zoologist, paleontologist, zookeeper, museum person, fisherman or the like for their review and follow-up. A definite follow-up is strongly recommended for the professional! Again, this thing(s) does not appear in the records (to my knowledge) and needs further recording and study – preferentially by the professionals. No alarm is suggested until the results come back on this specimen. Further circulation of this video and images to non-professionals may be harmful to this study. In the meanwhile, if you are not one of the professionals studying this specimen, please do stay away if you possibly can…

  3. That just doesn’t make any sense, the pictures of the worms look completely different than the ones in the video… You could actually distinguish the worms in the picture, this is all over the wall! Like a slime, the worms in the pictures look nothing like slime when they are in blobs. Also in the other videos, the worms didn’t look like they moved all at the same instant…This is too confusing!

  4. WOW.. ok first of all how can you not look past the slime and see the balls of white looking worms moving around.. I live in raleigh, and STATE STAFF BIOLOGIST comfirmed they were clumps of tubifex worms.. And yes such organisms exist. Alot think it’s bryozoans (which are known to clog pipes), but it isn’t. The only strange thing about it is how they somehow got into our sewer pipes..

  5. So your saying tubifex worms can create a thik slimey sack around the colony, thats has muscle reactive contractions to a hot light? Look closely at the edges of the slimey membrane that clings to the wall. Thats not tubifex worms hidden beneath making it move, but the membrane itself reacting. So your suggesting a ton of tubifex worms in fact created a living membrane (aka another lifeform) to surround themselves and hold them up against the pipe wall? Also, why hasn’t anyone collected one of these weird pods, and posted a video of an autopsy on one of them? That would be the quickest way to not only find out what it is, but to also dismiss the crazy alien theories. I mean come on people. Seriously? An alien lifeform come to earth and is easily found in a sewer pipe?

  6. As a Manager for Roto Rooter Plumbing in San Diego and a Master Plumber for over 20 years, I have seen THOUSANDS of sewer videos for private sewers and municipal mains. This video appears to be made inside a municipal line using a remote crawler with a pan and tilt camera in a clay tile pipe (unsure of the size, but it looks to be 8″ inside diameter, if that helps with your perspective).
    I have repaired hundereds of sewers of various sizes up to 16″.

    I have NEVER seen anything like this. REALLY SCARY! Please positivly identify these blobs, or I may have to go into early retirement, and you civilians will be on your own!

  7. Sorry; I looked at it again. The video has an imprint text from the computer software for the municipality says the pipe is 6″ clay pipe and was taken from manhole #9. The video begins about 4 feet in from the manhole entry.

  8. This was posted on June 30th, 2009 and it’s july 11th 2009. Why hasn’t anyone ripped one open and see? I mean, it’s not to hard to remove one from the wall. If it is warms, just by removing one from the wall you will be able to see what it is. Once someone cuts it up, all this would be settled.

  9. Man, i bet the government is trying to cover this up. That’s why they made a guy say it’s just tubifex worms when mutation is causing these things OR they could be aliens/parasites.

  10. To expand upon my previous post…

    I grew up in Raleigh and have crawled through culverts, waded through creeks, rolled over rocks, and have seen just about every creature that is to be found in the area. Never have I come across anything that comes close in appearance/behavior/etc to this organism. In fact it does not come close to ANY organism that I have seen ANYWHERE during my tenure an outdoors-man cum armchair biologist. This thing has multiple, discreet organ systems. While colonies (such as coral and bee hives) may share supporting elements, nothing like the systems( reactive epidermis/musculature, submerged filter feeder tendrils and antenna) present in the vid could be of a communal manufacture.

    My new question are these: Where is the rest of the footage? Where is the crew that made the discovery. Where may I find some of these on my own?

  11. Ok, Prepare to feel stupid all you people who think you know what these creatures are.
    Its a complete FAKE.
    Besides the clean water running in the sewer and the fact that the camera only looks one way down the pipe that could be setup anywhere.

    Look at the last “Creature”. You can clearly see a white string on the top that changes angle from the person pulling it.

    You can see it on the first one as well.

    Look again people.

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  14. First off it looks to me like some type of cocoon from the alien movie. I mean it doesnt look to me at all like those worms. These worms in the other two videos are actually moving around and breaking off a little from each other. Now on the other hand the video in the sewer they do not get seperated and it seems to be one thing by itself.It’s dumb that all those people on youtube are saying it’s a colonoscopy so sad for people that think everything can be explained. This is definitely something that I think needs to be looked into. If these are just worms then why isn’t there footage of these worms in other sewers?

  15. This is in response to the guy who says it is setup. #1 Sewer water is 99.9 percent clean water, from showers, dishwashers washing machines, and if you knew anything that is what a typical video assessment of a sewer survey looks like exactly…..
    And how exactly would you fake something like that?????
    If you want to debunk it try harder and make some sense at least…

  16. I agree that these are Tubifex or Blackworms, which are used to feed tropical fish. I have raised them for fish food and they consume bacteria and other pollution for their food and likely are beneficial, being the first stage of water treatment in this instance. Pet stores sell them in small portions and ordering them in bulk can range from $13. to $20. per pound.

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  19. i dont get it tho if there worms then when the sac moves it pulls the outside of it back in so why is that it contracts the goo holding it on the wall and releases so how do worms control the outside sac?

  20. I’ve watched all three of the videos, AND also viewed another tubifex worm video called, Tubifex on a plate. In that video, there was a large pile of tubifex in one clumpy mass, looking kind of like a piece of liver. When the guy poked it, the whole mass contracted at once, like the masses in the video. He then took a bunch of the worms and put them in a glass of water, where they behaved normally, with worms floating around individually.

    I also READ a little bit about the worms, and they actually DO develop protective cysts. They love polluted areas, and though it is unusual that they should be in a sewer, until there is definitive proof that there is something else, I personally am going to have to agree with diagnosis: Tubifex.

  21. thankyou for your post! I just came across this video and was so disturbed by it! Glad to know theres an explanation..though its still DISGUSTING

  22. I don’t see anywhere where anyone has retrieved a specimen and verified what exactly it is yet. It seems that they haven’t even been verified yet that they are even biological.

  23. I’ll respond that, reasonably, those ‘nodes’ may be tubifex swarms — only if others will admit the possibility that we may understand such nodes as being ethologically comparable to the aemobea that are also slime mold… you see?….

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  25. Nice footage. To the comments above: may be it’s not a single creature or colony of 1 species but a colony of several different species?

    The worm-theory could still match (I believe). In these water conditions you could expect myxomycete (slime molds) to grow very fast.

    Actually I saw something that looked perfectly like this two days ago: in a tea pot that somehow was forgotten with the tea bag still inside. Slime molds have covered it all up within just 3 days and transformed the bag totally. You never could tell what it was unless you really knew it.

    If they can do this within just three days, think of what they can do to a sewer pipe within years. They would totally overgrow it and if there was a colony of worms I’m quite certain they would cover it up as well within a short time, making it look like anything – except a worm.

    But actually I’m not a biologist, so I’m just guessing.

  26. I’ve rechecked the footage. Take a look at index 1:10 to 1:25. Check the light spot to the left in the middle of the screen right at the edge of the “slime-ball”? See how it moves independently up and down. To me it perfectly looks like the tail (or head?) of a worm, covered up with the same slime you can see all over the rest of the sewer pipe.

    I’m convinced that Dr. Wood is right about Tubifex.

  27. I find myself pleased with Dr. Wood’s assessment. Since, there’s way of referencing the size of the pipes/critters from this video, people seem to be assuming that they are much larger than they really are. That water-way is probably less than a foot in diameter. Hence they had to send a little camera-bot.

  28. These are tubifex worms. They look different in the other videos because they are in water. These ones aren’t in water. I’ve seen a video debunking this. Check it out on youtube.

  29. Well I must say all this talk of worms and aliens makes me laugh not crossing it out but I’ve seen this creepy Phenomenon before right in my own home! This living organism looks like no other than some fungus. I once found a moldy container of old old chicken broc alf half eaten, must have fallen off behind frige and I when we moved I opened it up and their was this black sea-urchant looking thing and I sware it was looking at me cuz it moved. I don’t really know what that pipe creature’s are; but I feel that the fact mold or fungi could be a possibility considering a good rule out of the reason why they don’t require sunlight feeding upon the algea/ bacterias manefesting along the pipes walls, which is key to the nutrition of such fungis/molds. Considering that the other fact that there are 1.5million species of fungi which are living organisms like the mushroom and molds, in some cases a parasitic forms. However with ruling out they being parasites, many fungi are usually stationary like these critters here. As for the explanation of the exoskeleton structure we see pulsating, might be caused by a mutation of the chitin molecule for what ever reason; which would make it the cell wall which can be found in fungi. The pulsating structure is proly caused from a chemical and thermal reaction causing the organism to activate a filtering mechanisim. If so then fungi’s and molds also go through stages and this could be part of a way to speed up a deffense mech / reproduction. hense why so many in that pipe. IDFK but it’s a though no?

  30. LOL another assumption Iv’e come across is regaurding those trying to determin the size of the creatures. After reviewing the video i descovered using simple mathematics from freaking high school whith what we allready kno; the pipe in 6″in diameter thus making the creatures ne-where around 3″ to 1.6″ in diameter themselves still making the average mold/fungi size!

  31. I’m sorry math wrong it’s like 1.26″ in diameter to 2.125″ in diameter max. it’s a rough estamate no idean how old the intel is..

  32. These nasty creatures have evolved with bacterial parasites in the sewers of louisville kentucky to form an aggressive micro-organism that is invaiding homes thru the drains
    to burrow into human feet, legs, hands and causing much pain and suffering. I know they ran me out of my home and the govt would not help they laughed me off and turned me away.
    I still own the house but its still infested. I tried every chemical, poison, and substance known to fight these creatures but they only got stronger. Need researcher, scientist, to investigate. Its unbelievable. BUT THEY ARE FOR REAL. Please HELP!
    closeuplens@msn.com My name is Bob

  33. I agree with Bob; I live in North Hollywood and I have a friend living in West Hollywood. For than a year, we’ve been dealing with these very slick critters… now I’m not sure if the North Carolina video is the same thing but I can attest to everything that Bob has said.

    This friend and I first noticed odd movement under the flooring in our apts. Then we noticed that whatever it was was drawn to areas of the home where there’s a constant supply of water (kitchen/bathroom). Initially i thought it a slime mold, but slime molds don’t live as long as this thing does. I cannot telll you how much money we have spent on cleaning supplies in the last year. My friend has actually moved. We’ve had countless tests by medical doctors which either come back negative for parasites or comeback postive for different parasites. We’ve pretty much settled on it being morgellons cause there’s no explanation. I can say one thing; these organisms/parasites are host specific, powerful (they can move entire structures–I know crazy), and frankly whether or not anyone believes me i could care less. Everyone will eventually have to deal with them. They are able to penetrate all sorts of surfaces the way some parasitic worms penetrate skin, and I have seen them everywhere. You may ask why doesn’t everyone else? Trust me everyone else will in time.

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  35. Please help!

    I have moved to a rural area and had to install a water sewage system which only drains the sewage into the soil. Too far from the city for mains sewage.

    It has been 1 year, I am the only person living here, and just recently, I have found several, snakelike creatures with an armadillo-like covering, making their bodies very strong, coming from my kitchen sink drain! Yuck!

    They slither like a snake, very quickly, are almost black in colour, and when I killed one with a spoon, the head and its first 2 feet kept slithering….. Yikes!
    The ones I have found are about 2″ long.

    I have found one on the kitchen floor now, worrying that they are spreading around.
    I put some bleach down the drain last night and found a very soft, dead victim in the sink. It is not good to use the bleach with plastic drain pipes..

    what do you recommend to eradicate or control the problem?
    i need help!

  36. IT´s me again. I found another of these teeny creatures on my kitchen floor this morining. I can be more specific. These are about 1″ long and a millimeter wide.
    They slither quickly, like snakes and have two antennae-like protuberances coming from the face. It seems like it is a really basic organism, but really concerns me because it is entering the kitchen from the wastewater. Dangerous for good hygiene.
    I would really appreciate information about how to resolve this infestation.
    thanking you kindly in advance.

  37. Third time is the charm?
    I understand that you focus on the sea, but you have answered questions about sewage and drains. I also see that you have ventured into the Antarctic. I live in Bariloche, Argentina. My problem is due to creatures coming into my house from water under the ground. My astrological sign is Cancer… THE WATER SIGN!

    SO. it seems that at least one of you would use or share your contacts with me to resolve my problem. I worked in AI and also information systems, healthcare specialist, and also publisher and event organiser dealing with government and companies like Oracle, IBM, Siemens, etc, with governments around the world.

    I NEED HELP: How can I prepare food in a kitchen with these creatures coming out of the waste water? I am also a chef and cannot bear to prepare any food in this sink or kitchen, because if these creatures have come out of the drain and I find them on my kitchen floor…. where have they been?
    Please. You have my private email address. Please help.
    thanking you kindly in advance.
    r graham from a hostile creature and political environment.

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