Bahamas Shark Station Invaded By "Lice"
Scientists at an underwater shark station in the Bahamas began noticing that camera cables were looking chewed on, a fact that was brought home to them when one of the cameras cut out. They started looking around to see who -- or what -- could have caused the damage. The answer was Bathynomus Giganteus, a giant crustacean.
The teeth marks and some of the film footage led scientists to find the culprit -- a giant, underwater relative of the common woodlouse (aka, pill bug or roly-poly). Bathynomus Giganteus is a pale lavender in color, has seven pairs of legs, and measures about a foot long when fully grown, though some have been known to grow as long as two and a half feet. Normally the scary-looking isopod lives at a depth of around 8,500 feet. In that environment the Bathynomus Giganteus are scavengers and feeds on dead whales, fish, and squid. They may also be live hunters, preying on slow moving sea creatures such as sea cucumbers and sponges.
The theory has been put forth that the isopods were attracted to the electric current in the cable. That or they just like the taste of rubber. The cables were fixed and the team of scientists and students were able to get some amazing footage before the camera went dark once more. Bathynomus Giganteus had struck again.
The camera cable is now being fitted with a harder plastic coating to guard against any such future attacks. If that doesn't work, the scientists do have one other option. The Bathynomus Giganteus is apparently considered tasty in Taiwan, boiled and served on a bed of rice.
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger