Interesting Facts About Giant Isopods: Deep Sea Dwellers

Did it just crawl out of a horrifying sci-fiction movie? The giant isopod is undoubtedly one of the strangest deep-sea creatures. They’re abundant in the deep waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Scientifically known as Bathynomus giganteus, the giant isopod is one of the members of the genus Bathynomus.
Two thousand feet underneath the Southern Ocean dwells an ancient-looking creature with two pairs of jaws, four antennae, plates on its back, and many pairs of spiny legs. It is an intimidating sight, but the giant isopod is a harmless animal that’s more interested in finding a meal than anything.
Several species of isopods live throughout the world. However, the isopods you will sail over during your Antarctica cruise have evolved significantly to live in a specific environment. Most deep-water species don’t like freezing-cold conditions with very little light, but such conditions are just perfect for giant isopods.
Giant Isopod is the largest known member of the isopod family, a group of crustaceans related to crabs and shrimps. Also, the giant isopod is related to the small pill bugs found in the garden. That is why sometimes the creature is referred to as the giant pill bug.
Giant isopods aren’t often fished commercially, but you can find some in the occasional Oceanside restaurant in northern Taiwan, where they boil and serve them with rice.
A phenomenon known as deep-sea gigantism accounts for the enormous size of the giant isopod. It’s the tendency of deep-sea crustaceans and other creatures to grow much bigger than similar species in shallow waters.
The giant isopod can reach a length of more than 16 inches. Thus, it’s one of the largest members of the crustacean family. Like the pillbug (its terrestrial cousin), a hard shell that’s divided into segments protects the body of the giant isopod. It makes the creature strong and flexible.
Let’s now look at 6 interesting facts about Giant isopods:
1. Giant isopods live in many oceans of the world. Their habitat ranges from the bathypelagic zone’s pitch darkness at 2,140 m (7,020 ft) to the dimly lit sublittoral zone at 170 m (550 ft). They prefer clay or mud bottom areas of the ocean. They live solitary lives as well.
2. Giant isopods roll into a ball to deter predators. Just like the pill bugs, they roll up into a tight ball when a predator attacks them. They unroll only when they are sure that the predator has gone away.
If their external segments cannot protect them from predation, they rely on the four pairs of sharp jaws to help them out. The Giant isopod does not seem like an attractive prey considering their size, overall diet and the number of jaws.
3. Just like its terrestrial counterpart, the giant isopod has compound eyes, with more than 4,000 facets. As a result, the animal has a large field of view. It is very sensitive to fast movements.
The giant isopod develops large antennae because the light is very faint in the deep sea. The antennae help it feel its way as it crawls.
4. Giant isopods lay eggs to reproduce. Scientists believe their eggs are the largest of all marine invertebrates. The females have a pouch called a marsupium, where they store the eggs until the young ones emerge.
Once they’re fully formed miniatures of adults, the young isopods escape from their mother’s marsupium. They’re referred to as manca at this stage. They are almost fully developed. Bypassing the larval stage significantly increases their chances of survival.
5. The giant isopod is a carnivorous crustacean. It scavenges the deep sea floor. At these great depths, food is very scarce. Therefore, the isopod eats whatever falls from above. It can be the bodies of dead whales, squid, and fish.
The giant isopod also feeds on slow-moving creatures such as sponges and sea cucumbers. The isopod has a complex mouth with several components that pierce, shred, and disembowel the prey. This animal can go for a long period without eating. It can survive more than eight weeks without food in captivity.

Leave a Reply, No Login Necessary.