Wild Fact #727 – Aliens of the Sea – Giant Isopod

I was having a really tough time picking an animal for today’s fact, which happens to be the toughest part of this Wild Facts project.  Since I wasn’t very creative tonight I decided to take a trip where I knew I could find some interesting creatures.  Of course I am talking about the deep depths of the ocean. It only took me about 30 seconds to find the Giant Isopod which just screamed “I am a perfect Thursday Wild Fact!” So adjust your scuba gear and hold on as we find out more about this bizarre crustacean.

The Giant Isopods are related to shrimp, crabs and other crustaceans and just happen to be very common in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Now I know it looks like it could be the main character on a Sci-Fi movie but believe it or not this thing exists on earth and in some restaurants in Taiwan, with a side of rice of course.  So just how big is this “Giant”? On average the Giant Isopod will reach up to 40 cm (16″) in length and weigh about 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs).  Now I see why they are referred to as the Giant Isopod.

One of the biggest problems with living in the deep sea is the lack of light. Man, I get grumpy during the winter months because their isn’t much sunlight, I wonder how these guys do it on the ocean floor? Although there isn’t much light the Giant Isopod has large compound eyes composed of 4000 facets which gives these creatures a very large field of vision. To help out with the darkness they have also developed large antennae which relay signals back to the crawling crustacean.

Photo by: NOAA

So what does an Isopod that looks like it belongs in a horror movie eat? Pretty much anything that falls to the ocean floor.  Unfortunately food can get scarce in the deeper depths of the ocean so the Giant Isopod can’t afford to be a picky eater. Their diet consists of a variety of prey items including dead whales, fish and slow moving animals such as sea cucumbers and sponges. Just in case these creatures didn’t look scary enough their mouth parts are designed to rip, pierce and disembowel their prey. When things really get tough the Giant Isopod will just fast and has been known to go up to 8 weeks without food. Again, I get grumpy if I am not fed on a regular basis.  I think it is a good thing I am a terrestrial animal.

Giant Isopod Fast Fact – These magnificent creatures can be found in most oceans and in a variety of depths ranging from 170 m (550′) to 2140 m (7,020′). They are also known to lay the largest eggs of any marine invertebrate. Mmmmm….Giant Isopod omelet!

Below is a quick 30 second video of a Giant Isopod searching for food on the ocean floor.  It looks kind of like an alien on the surface of the moon. I hope you enjoyed our trip to the deep sea.  I will see all of you back here tomorrow for the last fact of the week.

3 Responses

  1. CHB2011 7 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 7 years ago
  2. nya-tan 3 years ago

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