A RARE sea creature which is only usually seen at the depths of the ocean was found washed up on a Dorset beach.
Biomedical scientist Paul Harris was walking along West Bexington Beach when he stumbled upon a Sea Mouse, which can usually be found buried up to 6,600ft beneath the waves.
The rare creature, which feasts on dead animals and is covered in colourful hair, is a type of marine worm.
Dorset’s coast has been battered by severe storms in recent weeks and tonnes of rubbish, dead seabirds and unusual finds have been washed up on the county’s shores.
Mr Harris, of Upwey, said: “I had no clue what it was at first but when I got home I looked it in one of my books and realised we’d found something really rare. It said they are only found in very deep water and only ever seen in very severe storms.
“The storms have been bad in Dorset and my wife and I have been beach combing for interesting artefacts- we’ve found some really amazing stuff.”
He added: “Sadly, this one had already died but it was an amazing find in Dorset.”
The discovery follows another in Kent last month when a woman walking along the beach came upon another of these rare sea creatures.
Last month, a family spoke of their shock at finding a shark on Charmouth Beach.
Ten-year-old Nate Gillan was out fossil hunting when he stumbled across what experts claim is either an endangered blue shark or a tope.
The Sea Mouse must have been flung ashore in recent storms.
Sea Mice can grow up to 12 inches long and are normally found just below the intertidal zone on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean.
Experts at Weymouth Sea Life Park confirmed that the creature is a Sea Mouse.
The keen biomedical scientist says he has found some fascinating items in the aftermath of the Dorset storms.
Paul Harris also discovered a ‘Bull’s Eye’ – a piece of equipment used as part of the rigging on old sailing ships.
Mr Harris said: “It is made from Lignum vitae, one of the heaviest and most durable woods known, so much so that it won’t even float. We assume this has been torn from an old wreck on the seafloor in Lyme Bay and thrown ashore.”