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Ever wonder what giant deep-sea isopods actually do? [video]

By Shane Graber - Posted Mar 25, 2013 11:00 AM
These massive deep-sea isopods are bottom dwellers, surviving on whatever they can scavenge from their environment. Here are two videos that give us a glimpse into their normal daily activities.
Ever wonder what giant deep-sea isopods actually do? [video]

A frontal view of Bathynomus giganteus, showing its large, highly reflective compound eyes. Photo Wikipedia.

Deep-sea isopods look a lot like the every day pill bug that one can find in your yard, and while they are related, these deep-sea isopods reach enormous lengths compared to their distant relatives: anywhere from 7.5-14 inches with the largest reaching 3.7 lbs and 30 inches. That's a HUGE bug!

As mentioned, these isopods are scavengers, subsiding off of whatever falls to the seabed that is edible.  They are typically found anywhere from 170 feet to 2,140 feet deep in waters reaching down to almost 39 degrees fahrenheit.

It's not often that we get to see what these creatures do on the seafloor, as the depths they live in are normally only accessible via a ROV. In this case, the below videos were recorded by the ROV Isis as it was surveying areas around Montserrat in the Caribbean. During the Isis' dive, it bumped into two deep-sea isopods going about their normal day-to-day activies. What is awesome to see is how effortlessly the isopod swims away in the second video:

(via Southern Fried Science)

Author: Shane Graber
Location: Indiana

Shane has kept saltwater tanks for the last 12 years, is a research scientist, lives in northern Indiana, and is a proud Advanced Aquarist staffer.


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