FARMINGTON — A biology researcher is being credited with discovering a new species of marine worm near the U.S. Virgin Islands.

University of Maine at Farmington lecturer Nancy Prentiss says she found the unfamiliar fanworms on the underside of a rock while snorkeling at Hurricane Hole off of St. John. She says she knew the red-and-white worms, protected by coiled calcium carbonate tubes, were unique.

The Morning Sentinel reports Prentiss underwent five years of research to eliminate the possibility that the worms were part of an existing genus or species. She published her work on the worms in December in the academic journal Zootaxa.

The newly discovered worm is named Turbocavus secretus. Specimens are deposited in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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