Giant isopod dies after five-year 'hunger strike'

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A giant Bathynomus isopod at a Japanese aquarium has died, more than five years after staff last managed to get it to eat anything.

These huge deep sea crustaceans play an important role in the wild as scavengers, cleaning up whatever comes to rest at the bottom of the sea, including whale carcasses and fish.

The 30cm/12" male isopod arrived at the Toba Aquarium in 2007 and it last ate in January 2009. Since then, staff say the crustacean 'pretended to eat' by poking at the food with its front legs and rubbing its face in it, but then it just used to just walk away from the food and ignore it. You can see this behaviour in the video below.

 

The other isopods at the aquarium are said to have healthy appetites.

The giant crustacean was found dead in its tank on Friday.

An investigation will now be carried out on the body of the isopod to try and establish why it stopped eating.

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