New Zealand Nightmare

supergiant-amphipodIn February of 2012 scientists reported finding giant crustaceans called “supergiant” amphipods during a research expedition trying to find deep-sea snailfish off the coast of New Zealand (photo right). They hauled in seven amphipods, the largest of which measured 11 inches (28 cm) long.

Scientists say they are the much larger cousins of crustaceans living around the world in lakes and oceans. The smaller crustaceans only measure about half an inch long (1 cm) and are referred to as “Insects of the Sea.”

Is anyone else sharing the “ewww!!” factor with me, when thinking about “insects” that are this big and ugly? More and more, my desire to dip my toe in the sea is waning. Still, it’s interesting because here we have another creature found only twice before in human history: in 1899, some were discovered in the Atlantic ocean by a trawling expedition, then in 1980 several were caught north of the island of Hawaii.

supergiant-amphipodDrAlanJamiesonThese latest samples,  seven in all, were found off the coast of New Zealand in one of the deepest trenches on Earth called the Kermadec Trench. To the best of my knowledge, they were found by Dr. Alan Jamieson (photo left) and his research team. The creatures are described as “leggy” and having a waxy texture and look similar to cockroaches.

They are the stuff of my nightmares, that’s for sure as I’m no fan of insects anywhere. But it’s fascinating what the deep waters of the world still hold and hide from us.

I put it you, it’s not just the waters of the world that hide things from us. There are still vast tracks of wilderness in the world that hide and hold creatures we have no inkling of, or that we’ve caught glimpses of, but can’t yet identify. I’m excited about discovering them – how about you?

Oh, one last note – that deep-sea snailfish they were trying to find? They found them mixed in with the supergiant amphipods. A sea floor camera, positioned about a mile (2 km) from the location where the amphipods were caught, revealed seven snailfish moving among the supergiant amphipods on the sea floor. Here’s what a one of those snailfish look like:

DeepSeaSnailfish

Til the next time!

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