New Species Can “Strip the Carcass” of Dead Whales in Days

Written by on August 12, 2015 in Marine Life

Scientists from the National Oceanography Center (NOC) recently discovered two new species of amphipods — tiny shrimp like creatures — that “strip the carcasses of dead marine animals” in just a few days.

An example of amphipod diversity. Photo credit: NOAA/OER.

An example of amphipod diversity. Photo credit: NOAA/OER.

These tiny amphipods grow only up to 3mm long and live deep beneath the surface (down to 4500 meters). They work together in big swarms to consume a range of dead animals, like whales, fish, and seabirds.

“Amphipods are incredibly diverse and adaptable; there are currently around 10,000 species known to science,” lead author Dr. Tammy Horton explained in a news release. “They live in all marine environments, from shallow waters to the ocean’s deepest trenches, on land and in fresh water.”

The scientists discovered these species by lowering a trap filled with mackerel as bait to deep waters. When they pulled the trap up, it contained as many as 40,000 amphipods. Among them were the two new species, Paracallisoma idioxenos and Haptocallisoma lemarete.

This study was completed as part of NOC’s ongoing study of the deep sea environment.

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Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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